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THE WORKS 

OP 

GEOEGE ELIOT 



STANDARD EDITION 



STANDARD EDITION 



THE AVOEKS OF 

GEORGE ELIOT 



SCENES OF CLEKICAL LIFE 

VOL. I. 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 
EDINBURGH AND LONDON 



All Rights reserved 



S3 




CONTENTS OF THE FIEST VOLUME. 



THE SAD FORTUNES OF THE REV. AMOS BARTON, 
MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY, 



THE SAD FORTUNES 

OF THE 

EEVEEEND AMOS BARTON 



CHAPTEK 1. 



Shepperton Clmrcli was a very different - looking 
building five -and -twenty years ago. To be sure, 
its substantial stone tower looks at you through its 
intelligent eye, the clock, with the friendly expres- 
sion of former days ; but in everything else what 
changes ! Now there is a wide span of slated roof 
flanking the old steeple ; the windows are tall and 
symmetrical ; the outer doors are resplendent with 
oak - graining, the inner doors reverentially noise- 
less with a garment of red baize ; and the walls, 
you are convinced, no lichen will ever again effect 
a settlement on — they are smooth and innutrient as 
the summit of the Rev. Amos Barton's head, after 
ten years of baldness and supererogatory soap. 
Pass through the baize doors and you will see 
the nave filled with well -shaped benches, under- 
stood to be free seats ; while in certain eligible 
corners, less directly under the fire of the clergy- 
man's eye, there are pews reserved for the Shepper- 
ton gentility. Ample galleries are supported on 



4 



SCENES OF CLElilCAL LIFE. 



iron ))ill;irs, and in nuv, of tliom stands the crowning 
i;iorv, the very clasp or aigrette of Shepperton 
cinncli - adornment — namely, an organ, not very 
nuK'li out of repair, on which a collector of small 
rents, dirferentiatcd by the force of circumstances 
iiito an organist, will accompany the alacrity of 
your departure after the blessing, by a sacred 
minuet or an easy " Gloria." 

Tnunense improvement ! says the well-regulated 
mind, which unintermittingly rejoices in the New 
Police, the Tithe Commutation Act, the penny-post, 
and all guarantees of human advancement, and has 
no moments when conservative -reforming intellect 
takes a nap, while imagination does a little Toryism 
by the sly, revelling in regret that dear, old, brown, 
crumbling, picturesque inefficiency is everywhere 
giving place to spick-and-span new -painted, new- 
varnished efficiency, which will yield endless dia- 
grams, plans, elevations, and sections, but alas ! no 
picture. Mine, I fear, is not a well-regulated mind : 
it has an occasional tenderness for old abuses ; it 
lingers with a certain fondness over the days of 
nasal ^clerks and top-booted parsons, and has a sigh 
for the departed shades of vulgar errors. So it is 
not surprising that I recall with a fond sadness 
Shepperton Church as it was in the old days, 
with its outer coat of rough stucco, its red -tiled 
roof, its heterogeneous windows patched with de- 
sultory bits of painted glass, and its little flight 
of steps with their wooden rail running up the 



AMOS BARTON. 



5 



outer wall, and leading to the school - children's 
gallery. 

Then inside, what dear old qnaintnesses ! which I 
began to look at with delight, even when I was so 
crude a member of the congregation, that my nurse 
found it necessary to provide for the reinforcement 
of my devotional patience by smuggling bread- 
and-butter into the sacred edifice. There was the 
chancel, guarded by two little cherubim looking 
uncomfortably squeezed between arch and wall, and 
adorned with the escutcheons of the Oldinport family, 
which showed me inexhaustible possibilities of mean- 
ing in their blood-red hands, their death's-heads and 
cross-bones, their leopards' paws, and Maltese crosses. 
There were inscriptions on the panels of the singing- 
gallery, telling of benefactions to the poor of Shep- 
perton, with an involuted elegance of capitals and 
final flourishes, which my alphabetic erudition traced 
with ever-new delight. No benches in those days ; 
but huge roomy pews, round which devout church- 
goers sat during " lessons," trying to look anywhere 
else than into each other's eyes. No low partitions 
allowing you, with a dreary absence of contrast 
and mystery, to see everything at all moments ; 
but tall dark panels, under whose shadow I sank 
with a sense of retirement through the Litany, 
only to feel with more intensity my burst into 
the conspicuousness of public life when I was made 
to stand up on the seat during the psalms or the 
singing. 



6 



SCENES OF CLEUICAL LIFE. 



And tlio sinL!,-iii_i;- Avas no meclianical affair of 
oflicial rout iiic ; it luiil a drama. As the moment 
of |isalnio(]y approached, by some process to me as 
mysterious and nntraceable as the opening of the 
flowers or tlie breaking -out of the stars, a slate 
a})}K^ared in front of tlie gallery, advertising in bold 
cliaracters the psalm about to be sung, lest the 
sonorous announcement of the clerk should still 
leave the bucolic mind in doubt on that head. 
Tlien followed the migration of the clerk to the 
gallery, where, in company with a bassoon, two key- 
bugles, a carpenter understood to have an amazing 
power of singing " counter," and two lesser musical 
stars, he formed the complement of a choir regarded 
in Shepperton as one of distinguished attraction, 
occasionally known to draw hearers from the next 
parish. The innovation of hymn-books was as yet 
undreamed of ; even the New Version was regarded 
with a sort of melancholy tolerance, as part of the 
common degeneracy in a time when prices had 
dwindled, and a cotton gown was no longer stout 
enough to last a lifetime ; for the lyrical taste of 
the best heads in Shepperton had been formed on 
Sternhold and Hopkins. But the greatest triumphs 
of the Shepperton choir were reserved for the Sun- 
days when the slate announced an Anthem, with a 
dignified abstinence from particularisation, both words 
and music lying far beyond the reach of the most 
ambitious amateur in the congregation : — an anthem 
in which the key-bugles always ran away at a great 



AMOS BARTON. 



r 



pace, while tlie bassoon every now and then boomed 
a flying shot after them. 

As for the clergyman, Mr Gilfil, an excellent 
old gentleman, who smoked very long pipes and 
preached very short sermons, I must not speak of 
him, or I might be tempted to tell the story of his 
life, which had its little romance, as most lives have 
between the ages of teetotum and tobacco. And at 
present I am concerned with quite another sort of 
clergyman — the Kev. Amos Barton, who did not 
come to Shepperton until long after Mr Gilfil had 
departed this life — imtil after an interval in which 
Evangelicalism and the Catholic Question had begun 
to agitate the rustic mind with controversial debates. 
A Popish blacksmith had produced a strong Protes- 
tant reaction by declaring that, as soon as the Eman- 
cipation Bill was passed, he should do a great stroke 
of business in gridirons ; and the disinclination of 
the Shepperton parishioners generally to dim the 
unique glory of St Lawrence, rendered the Church 
and Constitution an affair of their business and 
bosoms. A zealous Evangelical preacher had made 
the old sounding-board vibrate with quite a different 
sort of elocution from Mr Gilfil's ; the hymn-book 
had almost superseded the Old and New Versions ; 
and the great square pews were crowded with new 
faces from distant corners of the parish — perhaps 
from Dissenting chapels. 

You are not imagining, I hope, that Amos Barton 
was the incumbent of Shepperton. He was no such 



8 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



tliini::. Tliosc wcro days when a man could hold 
llii-t'c small liviii^-s, starve a curate a-piece on two 
of thciii, and live badly himself on the thh'd. It 
was so \\ ilh the Vicar of Shepperton ; a vicar given 
to bricks and mortar, and thereby running into debt 
far away in a northern county — who executed his 
vicarial I'unctions towards Shepperton by pocketing 
tlie sum of thirty-five pounds ten per annum, the 
net surplus remaining to him from the proceeds of 
that living, after the disbursement of eighty pounds 
as the annual stipend of his curate. And now, pray, 
can you solve me the following problem ? Given a 
man with a wife and six children : let him be obliged 
always to exhibit himself when outside his own door 
in a suit of black broadcloth, such as will not under- 
mine the foundations of the Establishment by a paltry 
plebeian glossiness or an unseemly w^hiteness at the 
edges ; in a snowy cravat, which is a serious in- 
vestment of labour in the hemming, starching, and 
ironing departments ; and in a hat which shows 
no symptom of taking to the hideous doctrine of 
expediency, and shaping itself according to circum- 
stances ; let him have a parish large enough to 
create an external necessity for abundant shoe- 
leather, and an internal necessity for abundant beef 
and mutton, as well as poor enough to require 
frequent priestly consolation in the shape of shil- 
lings and sixpences ; and, lastly, let him be com- 
pelled, by his own pride and other people's, to dress 
his wife and children with gentility from bonnet- 



AMOS BAETON. 



9 



strings to shoe-strings. By what process of division 
can the sum of eighty pounds per annum be made 
to yield a quotient which will cover that man's 
weekly expenses ? This was the problem pre- 
sented by the position of the Rev. Amos Barton, 
as curate of Shepperton, rather more than twenty 
years ago. 

What was thought of this problem, and of the 
man who had to work it out, by some of the well- 
to-do inhabitants of Shepperton, two years or more 
after Mr Barton's arrival among them, you shall 
hear, if you will accompany me to Cross Farm, 
and to the fireside of Mrs Patten, a childless old 
lady, who had got rich chiefly by the negative 
process of spending nothing. Mrs Patten's passive 
accumulation of wealth, through all sorts of "bad 
times," on the farm of which she had been sole 
tenant since her husband's death, her epigrammatic 
neighbour, Mrs Hackit, sarcastically accounted for 
by supposing that "sixpences grew on the bents 
of Cross Farm ; " while Mr Hackit, expressing his 
views more literally, reminded his wife that " money 
breeds money." Mr and Mrs Hackit, from the 
neighbouring farm, are Mrs Patten's guests this 
evening ; so is Mr Pilgrim, the doctor from the 
nearest market -town, who, though occasionally 
affecting aristocratic airs, and giving late dinners 
with enigmatic side-dishes and poisonous port, is 
never so comfortable as when he is relaxing his 
professional legs in one of those excellent farm- 



10 



SCKNKS OV rLKIUCAL LIFE. 



luMiscs wliiMc tlic mice ;iro sloek and the mistress 
sickly. And lie is at tliis iiioment in clover. 

l"\ir ilic llickcrino^ of Mrs Pattens bright fire is 
rctlcctcd ill licr l)rig]it copper tea-kettle, the home- 
made midliiis glisten with an inviting succulence, 
and Mrs Patten's niece, a single lady of fifty, who 
has refused the most ineligible offers out of devotion 
to lier aged aunt, is pouring the rich cream into the 
fragrant tea Avith a discreet liberality. 

Keader ! did you ever taste such a cup of tea as 
Miss Gibbs is this moment handing to Mr Pilgrim? 
Do you know the dulcet strength, the animating 
blandness of tea sufficiently blended with real farm- 
house cream ? No — most likely you are a miserable 
town-bred reader, who think of cream as a thinnish 
white fluid, delivered in infinitesimal pennyworths 
down area steps ; or perhaps, from a presentiment of 
calves' brains, you refrain from any lacteal addition, 
and rasp your tongue with unmitigated bohea. You 
have a vague idea of a milch cow as probably a white 
plaster animal standing in a butterman's window, 
and you know nothing of the sweet history of gen- 
uine cream, such as Miss Gibbs's : how it was this 
morning in the udders of the large sleek beasts, 
as they stood lowing a patient entreaty under the 
milking-shed ; how it fell with a pleasant rhythm into 
Betty's pail, sending a delicious incense into the 
cool air ; how it was carried into that temple of 
moist cleanliness, the dairy, where it quietly separ- 
ated itself from the meaner elements of milk, and 



AMOS BARTON. 



11 



lay in mellowed whiteness, ready for the skimming- 
dish which transferred it to Miss Gibbs's glass cream- 
jug. If I am right in my conjecture, you are unac- 
quainted with the highest possibilities of tea ; and 
Mr Pilgrim, who is holding that cup in his hand, has 
an idea beyond you. 

Mrs Hackit declines cream ; she has so long ab- 
stained from it with an eye to the weekly butter- 
money, that abstinence, wedded to habit, has begot- 
ten aversion. She is a thin woman with a chronic 
liver-complaint, which would have secured her Mr 
Pilgrim's entire regard and unreserved good word, 
even if he had not been in awe of her tongue, which 
was as sharp as his own lancet. She has brought 
her knitting — no frivolous fancy knitting, but a 
substantial woollen stocking ; the click-click of her 
knitting-needles is the running accompaniment to 
all her conversation, and in her utmost enjoyment 
of spoiling a friend's self-satisfaction, she was never 
known to spoil a stocking. 

Mrs Patten does not admire this excessive click- 
clicking activity. Quiescence in an easy - chair, 
under the sense of compound interest perpetually 
accumulating, has long seemed an ample function to 
her, and she does her malevolence gently. She is a 
pretty little old woman of eighty, with a close cap 
and tiny flat white curls round her face, as natty and 
unsoiled and invariable as the waxen image of a little 
old lady under a glass-case ; once a lady's-maid, and 
married for her beauty. She used to adore her hus- 



12 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



band, and now slio adores her money, cherishing a 
quiet ItloiMl- relation's liatred for her niece, Janet 
l}il)l)s, who, slio Imows, expects a large legacy, and 
whom slie is determined to disappoint. Her money 
shall all go in a lump to a distant relation of her 
husband's, and Janet shall be saved the trouble of 
pretending to cry, by finding that she is left with 
a miserable pittance. 

Mrs Patten has more respect for her neighbour 
Mr Hackit than for most people. Mr Hackit is a 
sln-ewd substantial man, whose advice about crops 
is always worth listening to, and who is too well off 
to want to borrow money. 

And now that we are snug and warm with this 
little tea-party, while it is freezing with February 
bitterness outside, we will listen to what they are 
talking about. 

" So," said Mr Pilgrim, with his mouth only half 
empty of muffin, you had a row in Shepperton 
Church last Sunday. I was at Jem Hood's, the bas- 
soon-man's, this morning, attending his wife, and 
he swears he'll be revenged on the parson — a con- 
founded, methodistical, meddlesome chap, who must 
be putting his finger in every pie. What was it all 
about?" 

" 0, a passill o' nonsense," said Mr Hackit, stick- 
ing one thumb between the buttons of his capacious 
waistcoat, and retaining a pinch of snuff with the 
other — for he was but moderately given to "the 
cups that cheer but not inebriate," and had already 



AMOS BARTON. 



13 



finished his tea ; " they began to sing the wedding 
psalm for a new-married couple, as pretty a psalm 
an' as pretty a tune as any in the prayer-book. It's 
been sung for every new-married couple since I was 
a boy. And what can be better ? " Here Mr Hackit 
stretched out his left arm, threw back his head, and 
broke into melody — 

"'0 what a happy thing it is, 
And joyful for to see. 
Brethren to dwell together in 
Friendship and unity. ' 

But Mr Barton is all for the hymns, and a sort o' 
music as I can't join in at all." 

" And so,", said Mr Pilgrim, recalling Mr Hackit 
from lyrical reminiscences to narrative, "he called 
out Silence ! did he ? when he got into the pulpit ; 
and gave a hymn out himself to some meeting-house 
tune?" 

"Yes," said Mrs Hackit stooping towards the 
candle to pick up a stitch, "and turned as red as 
a turkey-cock. I often say, when he preaches about 
meekness, he gives himself a slap in the face. He's 
like me — he's got a temper of his own." 

" Rather a low-bred fellow, I think, Barton," said 
Mr Pilgrim, who hated the Rev. Amos for two 
reasons — because he had called in a new doctor, 
recently settled in Shepperton ; and because, being 
himself a dabbler in drugs, he had the credit of 
having cured a patient of Mr Pilgrim's. " They say 
his father was a Dissenting shoemaker ; and he's half 



11 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



u nissciitcr liiiiiscll'. Why, doesn't he preach extem- 
pore in that cottage up here, of a Sunday evening?" 

'* 'I'clmli !" — this was Mr Hackit's favourite inter- 
jfclion — "tliat preaching without book's no good, 
only wlicn a man has a gift, and has the Bible at 
liis lingers' cuds. It was all very well for Parry — 
lic'd a gift; and in niy youth I've heard the Banters 
out o' doors in Yorkshire go on for an hour or two 
on end, without ever sticking fast a minute. There 
was one clever chap, I remember, as used to say, 
' You're like the wood -pigeon ; it says do, do, do 
all day, and never sets about any work itself.' 
That's bringing it home to people. But our par- 
son's no gift at all that way ; he can preach as 
good a sermon as need be heard when he writes 
it down. But when he tries to preach wi'out book, 
he rambles about, and doesn't stick to his text ; and 
every now and then he flounders about like a sheep 
as has cast itself, and can't get on its legs again. 
You wouldn't like that, Mrs Patten, if you was to 
go to church now ? " 

"Eh, dear," said Mrs Patten, falling back in her 
chair, and lifting up her little withered hands, " what 
"ud Mr Gilfil say, if he was worthy to know the 
changes as have come about i' the church these last 
ten years? I don't understand these new sort o' 
doctrines. When Mr Barton comes to see me, he 
talks about nothing but my sins and my need o' 
marcy. Now, Mr Hackit, I've never been a sinner. 
From the fust beginning, when I went into service. 



AMOS BARTON. 



15 



I al'ys did my duty by my emplyers. I was a good 
wife as any in the county — never aggravated my 
husband. The cheese-factor used to say my cheese 
was al'ys to be depended on. I've known women, 
as their cheeses swelled a shame to be seen, when 
their husbands had counted on the cheese-money to 
make up their rent ; and yet they'd three gowns 
to my one. If I'm not to be saved, I know a 
many as are in a bad way. But it's well for me as 
I can't go to church any longer, for if th' old singers 
are to be done away with, there'll be nothing left as 
it was in Mr Patten's time 5 and what's more, I hear 
you've settled to pull the church down and build it 
up new ? " 

Now the fact was that the Kev. Amos Barton, on 
his last visit to Mrs Patten, had urged her to enlarge 
her promised subscription of twenty pounds, repre- 
senting to her that she was only a steward of her 
riches, and that she could not spend them more for 
the glory of God than b}^ giving a heavy subscrip- 
tion towards the rebuilding of Shepperton Church — 
a practical precept which was not likely to smooth 
the way to her acceptance of his theological doctrine. 
Mr Hackit, who had more doctrinal enlightenment 
than Mrs Patten, had been a little shocked by the 
heathenism of her speech, and was glad of the new 
turn given to the subject by this question, addressed 
to him as church -warden and an authority in all 
parochial matters. 

" Ah," he answered, " the parson's bothered us 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



into it at last, and we're to begin jmlling down 
lliis s})i in^-. Jiut we haven't got money enough yet. 
1 was lor waiting till we'd made up the sum, and, for 
niy part, I iliink the congregation's fell off o' late ; 
though Mr Barton says that's because there's been 
no room for the people when they've come. You 
see, the congregation got so large in Parry's time, 
the people stood in the aisles ; but there's never any 
crowd now, as I can see." 

said Mrs Hackit, whose good-nature began 
to act now that it was a little in contradiction with 
the dominant tone of the conversation, like Mr 
Barton. I think he's a good sort o' man, for all he's 
not overburthen'd i' th' upper storey ; and his wife's 
as nice a lady-like woman as I'd wish to see. How 
nice she keeps her children ! and little enough money 
to do't with ; and a delicate creatur' — six children, 
and another a-coming. I don't know how they make 
both ends meet, I'm sure, now her aunt has left 
'em. But I sent 'em a cheese and a sack o' potatoes 
last week ; that's something towards filling the little 
mouths." 

" Ah ! " said Mr Hackit, and my wife makes Mr 
Barton a good stiff glass o' brandy-and-water, when 
he comes in to supper after his cottage preaching. 
The parson likes it ; it puts a bit o' colour into his 
face, and makes him look a deal handsomer." 

This allusion to brandy-and-water suggested to 
Miss Gibbs the introduction of the liquor decanters, 
now that the tea was cleared away ; for in bucolic 



AMOS BARTON. 



17 



society five-ancl-twenty years ago, the human animal 
of the male sex was understood to be perpetually 
athirst, and " something to drink " was as necessary 
a " condition of thought " as Time and Space. 

iSFow, that cottage preaching," said Mr Pilgrim, 
mixing himself a strong glass of ' cold without,' I 
was talking about it to our Parson Ely the other 
day, and he doesn't approve of it at all. He said 
it did as much harm as good to give a too familiar 
aspect to religious teaching. That was what Ely 
said — it does as much harm as good to give a too 
familiar aspect to religious teaching." 

Mr Pilgrim generally spoke with an intermittent 
kind of splutter ; indeed, one of his patients had 
observed that it was a pity such a clever man had 
a " 'pediment " in his speech. But when he came 
to what he conceived the pith of his argument or 
the point of his joke, he mouthed out his words with 
slow emphasis ; as a lieii, when advertising her 
accouchement, passes at irregular intervals from 
pianissimo semiquavers to fortissimo crotchets. He 
thought this speech of Mr Ely's particularly meta- 
physical and profound, and the more decisive of the 
question because it was a generality which repre- 
sented no particulars to his mind. 

" Well, I don't know about that," said Mrs Hackit, 
who had always the courage of her opinion, " but I 
know, some of our labourers and stockingers as used 
never to come to cliurcli, come to the cottage, and 
that's better than never hearing anything good from 

VOL. I. B 



18 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



week's end to week's end. And there's that Track 
Society as Mr Barton lias begun — I've seen more o' 
the poor people witli going tracking, than all the 
time I've lived in the parish before. And there'd 
need be something done among 'em ; for the drink- 
ing at them Benefit Clubs is shameful. There's 
hardly a steady man or steady woman either, but 
what's a Dissenter." 

During this speech of Mrs Hackit's, Mr Pilgrim 
had emitted a succession of little snorts, something 
like the treble grunts of a guinea-pig, which were 
always with him the sign of suppressed disapproval. 
But he never contradicted Mrs Hackit — a woman 
whose "pot-luck" was always to be relied on, and 
who on her side had unlimited reliance on bleeding, 
blistering, and draughts. 

Mrs Patten, however, felt equal disapprobation, 
and had no reasons for suppressing it. 

" Well," she remarked, " I've beared of no good 
from interfering with one's neighbours, poor or rich. 
And I hate the sight o' women going about trapesing 
from house to house in all weathers, wet or dry, and 
coming in with their petticoats dagged and their 
shoes all over mud. Janet wanted to join in the 
tracking, but I told her I'd have nobody tracking 
out o' my house ; when I'm gone, she may do as she 
likes. I never dagged my petticoats in my life, and 
I've no opinion o' that sort o' religion." 

No," said Mr Hackit, who was fond of soothing 
the acerbities of the feminine mind with a jocose 



AMOS BARTON. 



19 



compliment, "you held your petticoats so high, to 
show your tight ankles : it isn't everybody as likes 
to show her ankles." 

This joke met with general acceptance, even from 
the snubbed Janet, whose ankles were only tight in 
the sense of looking extremely squeezed by her boots. 
But Janet seemed always to identify herself with her 
aunt's personality, holding her own under protest. 

Under cover of the general laughter the gentle- 
men replenished their glasses, Mr Pilgrim attempting 
to give his the character of a stirrup-cup by observ- 
ing that he " must be going." Miss Gibbs seized 
this opportunity of telling Mrs Hackit that she 
suspected Betty, the dairymaid, of frying the best 
bacon for the shepherd, when he sat up with her to 
" help brew ; " whereupon Mrs Hackit replied that 
she had always thought Betty false ; and Mrs Patten 
said there was no bacon stolen when she was able to 
manage. Mr Hackit, who often complained that he 
never saw the like to women with their maids — he 
never had any trouble with his men," avoided listen- 
ing to this discussion, by raising the question of 
vetches with Mr Pilgrim. The stream of conversa- 
tion had thus diverged ; and no more was said about 
the Kev. Amos Barton, who is the main object of 
interest to us just now. So we may leave Cross 
Farm without waiting till Mrs Hackit, resolutely 
donning her clogs and wrappings, renders it incum- 
bent on Mr Pilgrim also to fulfil his frequent threat 
of going. 



20 



CHAPTEE 11. 

It was happy for the Rev. Amos Barton that he did 
not, Hke ns, overhear the conversation recorded in 
the last chapter. Indeed, what mortal is there of 
us, who would find his satisfaction enhanced by an 
opportunity of comparing the picture he presents 
to himself of his own doings, with the picture they 
make on the mental retina of his neighbours ? We 
are poor plants buoyed up by the air-vessels of our 
own conceit : alas for us, if we get a few pinches 
tliat empty us of that windy self-subsistence ! The 
very capacity for good would go out of us. For, 
tell the most impassioned orator, suddenly, that his 
wig is awry, or his shirt-lap hanging out, and that 
he is tickling people by the oddity of his person, 
instead of thrilling them by the energy of his periods, 
and you would infallibly dry up the spring of his 
eloquence. That is a deep and wide saying, that no 
miracle can be wrought without faith — without the 
worker's faith in himself, as well as the recipient's 
faith in liiin. And the greater part of the worker's 



AMOS BARTON. 



21 



faith in himself is made up of the faith that others 
beheve in him. 

Let me be persuaded that my neighbour Jenkins 
considers me a blockhead, and I shall never shine in 
conversation with him any more. Let me discover 
that the lovely Phoebe thinks my squint intolerable, 
and I shall never be able to fix her blandly with my 
disengaged eye again. 

Thank heaven, then, that a little illusion is left to 
us, to enable us to be useful and agreeable — that we 
don't know exactly what our friends think of us — 
that the world is not made of looking-glass, to show 
us just the figure we are making, and just what 
is going on behind our backs ! By the help of 
dear friendly illusion, we are able to dream that 
we are charming — and our faces wear a becoming 
air of self-possession ; we are able to dream that 
other men admire our talents — and our benignity is 
undisturbed; we are able to dream that we are 
doing much good — and we do a little. 

Thus it was with Amos Barton on that very 
Thursday evening, when he was the subject of the 
conversation at Cross Farm. He had been dining at 
Mr Farquhar's, the secondary squire of the parish, 
and, stimulated by unwonted gravies and port-wine, 
had been delivering his opinion on affairs parochial 
and extra - parochial with considerable animation. 
And he was now returning home in the moonlight 
— a little chill, it is true, for he had just now no 
greatcoat compatible with clerical dignity, and a fur 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



boa round (iiio's lUH'k, with a waterproof cape over 
one's nliouldert?, doesn't frighten away the cold from 
one's k'gs ; but entirely unsuspicious, not only of Mr 
Ilackit's estimate of his oratorical powers, but also 
of tlie critical remarks passed on him by the Misses 
Farquhar as soon as the drawing-room door had 
closed behind him. Miss Julia had observed that 
slie never heard any one sniff so frightfully as Mr 
Barton did — she had a great mind to offer him her 
pocket-handkerchief; and Miss Arabella wondered 
why he always said he was going for to do a thing. 
He, excellent man ! was meditating fresh pastoral 
exertions on the morrow ; he would set on foot his 
lending library ; in which he had introduced some 
books that would be a pretty sharp blow to the 
Dissenters — one especially, purporting to be written 
by a working man, who, out of pure zeal for the 
welfare of his class, took the trouble to warn them 
in this way against those hypocritical thieves, the 
Dissenting preachers. The Kev. Amos Barton pro- 
foundly believed in the existence of that working 
man, and had thoughts of writing to him. Dissent, 
he considered, would have its head bruised in 
Shepperton, for did he not attack it in two 
ways ? He preached Low-Church doctrine — as evan- 
gelical as anything to be heard in the Independent 
Chapel ; and he made a High-Church assertion of 
ecclesiastical powers and functions. Clearly, the 
Dissenters would feel that the parson " was too 
many for them. Nothing like a man who com- 



AMOS BARTON. 



23 



bines shrewdness with energy. The wisdom of the 
serpent, Mr Barton considered, was one of his strong 
points. 

Look at him as he winds through the little church- 
yard ! The silver light that falls aslant on church 
and tomb, enables you to see his slim black figure, 
made all the slimmer by tight pantaloons, as it flits 
past the pale gravestones. He walks with a quick 
step, and is now rapping with sharp decision at the 
vicarage door. It is opened without delay by the 
nurse, cook, and housemaid, all at once — that is to 
say, by the robust maid-of-all-work, Nanny ; and as 
Mr Barton hangs up his hat in the passage, you see 
that a narrow face of no particular complexion — even 
the small-pox that has attacked it seems to have been 
of a mongrel, indefinite kind — with features of no 
particular shape, and an eye of no particular expres- 
sion, is surmounted by a slope of baldness gently 
rising from brow to crown. You judge him, rightly, 
to be about forty. The house is quiet, for it is half- 
past ten, and the children have long been gone to 
bed. He opens the sitting-room door, but instead of 
seeing his wife, as he expected, stitching with the 
nimblest of fingers by the light of one candle, he 
finds her dispensing with the light of a candle alto- 
gether. She is softly pacing up and down by the 
red firelight, holding in her arms little Walter, the 
year-old baby, who looks over her shoulder y\ith 
large wide-open eyes, while the patient mother pats 
his back with her soft hand, and glances with a sigh 



24 



SCENES (W CLERICAL LIFE. 



at tlio li(\ip of lai;Li;(^ and small stockings lying 
unnicntU'd on the table. 

She w as a lovely woman — Mrs Amos Barton ; a 
large, fair, gentle Madonna, with thick, close, chest- 
nut curls beside her well-rounded cheeks, and with 
large, tender, short-sighted eyes. The flowing lines 
of licr tall figure made the limpest dress look grace- 
ful, and her old frayed black silk seemed to repose 
on her bust and limbs with a placid elegance and 
sense of distinction, in strong contrast with the 
uneasy sense of being no fit, that seemed to express 
itself in the rustling of Mrs Farquhar's gros de 
Naples. The caps she wore would have been pro- 
nounced, when off her head, utterly heavy and 
hideous — for in those days even fashionable caps 
were large and floppy ; but surmounting her long 
arched neck, and mingling their borders of cheap 
lace and ribbon with her chestnut curls, they seemed 
miracles of successful millinery. Among strangers 
she was shy and tremulous as a girl of fifteen ; she 
blushed crimson if any one appealed to her opinion ; 
yet that tall, graceful, substantial presence was so 
imposing in its mildness, that men spoke to her with 
an agreeable sensation of timidity. 

Soothing, unspeakable charm of gentle woman- 
hood ! which supersedes all acquisitions, all accom- 
plishments. You would never have asked, at any 
period of Mrs Amos Barton's life, if she sketched or 
played the piano. You would even perhaps have 
been rather scandalised if she had descended from 



AMOS BAKTON. 



25 



the serene dignity of being to the assiduous unrest 
of doing. Happy the man, you would have thought, 
whose eye will rest on her in the pauses of his fire- 
side reading — whose hot aching forehead will be 
soothed by the contact of her cool soft hand — who 
will recover himself from dejection at his mistakes 
and failures in the loving light of her unreproaching 
eyes ! You would not, perhaps, have anticipated 
that this bliss would fall to the share of precisely 
such a man as Amos Barton, whom you have already 
surmised not to have the refined sensibilities for 
which you might have imagined Mrs Barton's quali- 
ties to be destined by pre-established harmony. But 
I, for one, do not grudge Amos Barton this sweet wife. 
I have all my life had a sympathy for mongrel un- 
gainly dogs, who are nobody's pets ; and I would 
rather surprise one of them by a pat and a pleasant 
morsel, than meet the condescending advances of 
the loveliest Skye-terrier who has his cushion by 
my lady's chair. That, to be sure, is not the way 
of the world : if it happens to see a fellow of fine 
proportions and aristocratic mien, who makes no 
faux pas, and wins golden opinions from all sorts of 
men, it straightway picks out for him the loveliest 
of unmarried women, and says, There would be a 
proper match ! Not at all, say I : let that success- 
fal, well-shapen, discreet, and able gentleman juit up 
with something less tlian the best in the matrimonial 
department ; and let the sweet woman go to make 
sunshine and a soft pillow for the poor devil whose 



20 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



U'-s iuo not models, wliose ('("forts are often blunders, 
and who in gvncnil gets more kicks than lialfpence. 
She — tlic! Rwoet woman — will like it as well ; for her 
siihlinu' capacity of lovin^;- will liave all the more 
sfo])!' ; and 1 venture to say, Mrs Barton's nature 
would never have grown half so angelic if she had 
nianicd the man you would perhaps have had in 
your eye for her — a man with sufficient income and 
abundant personal eclat. Besides, Amos was an 
affectionate husband, and, in his way, valued his 
wife as his best treasure. 

But now he has shut the door behind him, and 
said, "Well, Milly!" 

" Well, dear ! " was the corresponding greeting, 
made eloquent by a smile. 

" So that young rascal won't go to sleep ! Can't 
you give him to Nanny ? " 

"Why, Nanny has been busy ironing this evening ; 
but I think I'll take him to her now\" And Mrs 
Barton glided towards the kitchen, while her hus- 
band ran up -stairs to put on his maize -coloured 
dressing-gown, in which costume he was quietly 
filling his long pipe when his wife returned to the 
sitting-room. Maize is a colour that decidedly did 
not suit his complexion, and it is one that soon soils ; 
why, then, did Mr Barton select it for domestic 
wear ? Perhaps because he had a knack of hitting 
on the WTong thing in garb as well as in grammar. 

Mrs Barton now lighted her candle, and seated 
herself before her heap of stockings. She had some- 



AMOS BARTON. 



27 



thing disagreeable to tell her husband, but she would 
not enter on it at once. 

Have you had a nice evening, dear?" 

Yes, pretty well. Ely was there to dinner, but 
went away rather early. Miss Arabella is setting 
her cap at him with a vengeance. But I don't think 
he's much smitten. I've a notion Ely's engaged to 
some one at a distance, and will astonish all the 
ladies who are languishing for him here, by bringing 
home his bride one of these days. Ely's a sly dog ; 
he'll like that." 

" Did the Farquhars say anything about the sing- 
ing last Sunday ? " 

Yes ; Farquhar said he thought it was time 
there was some improvement in the choir. But 
he was rather scandalised at my setting the tune 
of 'Lydia.' He says he's always hearing it as he 
passes the Independent meeting." Here Mr Barton 
laughed — he had a way of laughing at criticisms 
that other people thought damaging — and thereby 
showed the remainder of a set of teeth which, like 
the remnants of the Old Guard, were few in number, 
and very much the worse for wear. " But," he con- 
tinued, "Mrs Farquhar talked the most about Mr 
Bridmain and the Countess. She has taken up all 
the gossip about them, and wanted to convert me to 
lier opinion, but I told her pretty strongly what I 
thought." 

" Dear me ! why will people take so much pains 
to find out evil about others? I have had a note 



28 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



from tlio Countess since you went, asking us to dine 
^vitll llicni on Friday." 

11 IMrs ]jarton reached the note from the mantel- 
I)ii'c'(', and gave it to her husband. We will look 
ovci- his slioiildcr while he reads it: — 

SwEKTEST MiLLY, — Bring your lovely face with 
your husband to dine with us on Friday at seven — 
do. If not, I will be sulky with you till Sunday, 
when I shall be obliged to see you, and shall long 
to kiss you that very moment. — Yours, according to 
your answer, Cakoline Czerlaski." 

"Just like her, isn't it?" said Mrs Barton. "I 
suppose we can go?" 

" Yes ; I have no engagement. The Clerical 
Meeting is to-morrow, you know." 

" And, dear. Woods the butcher called, to say he 
nmst have some money next week. He has a pa}^- 
ment to make np." 

This announcement made Mr Barton thoughtful. 
He puffed more rapidly, and looked at the fire. 

"I think I must ask Hackit to lend me twenty 
pounds, for it is nearly two months till Lady -day, 
and we can't give Woods our last shilling." 

"I hardly like you to ask Mr Hackit, dear — he 
and Mrs Hackit have been so very kind to us ; 
they have sent us so many things lately." 

" Then I must ask Oldinport. I'm going to write 
to him to-morrow morning, for to tell him the ar- 



AMOS BAETON. 



29 



rangement I've been thinking of about having service 
in the workhouse while the church is being enlarged. 
If he agrees to attend service there once or twice, the 
other people will come. Net the large fish, and 
you're sure to have the small fry." 

I wish we could do without borrowing money, 
and yet I don't see how we can. Poor Fred must 
have some new shoes ; I couldn't let him go to Mrs 
Bond's yesterday because his toes were peeping 
out, dear child ! and I can't let him walk anywhere 
except in the garden. He must have a pair before 
Sunday. Eeally, boots and shoes are the greatest 
trouble of my life. Everything else one can turn 
and turn about, and make old look like new ; but 
there's no coaxing boots and shoes to look better 
than they are." 

Mrs Barton was playfully undervaluing her skill 
in metamorphosing boots and shoes. She had at 
that moment on her feet a pair of slippers which 
had long ago lived through the prunella phase of 
their existence, and were now running a respectable 
career as black silk slippers, having been neatly 
covered with that material by Mrs Barton's own 
neat fingers. Wonderfal fingers those ! they were 
never empty ; for if she went to spend a few hours 
with a friendly parishioner, out came her thimble 
and a piece of calico or muslin, which, before she 
left, had become a mysterious little garment with 
all sorts of hemmed ins and outs. She was even 
trying to persuade her husband to leave off tight 



30 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



pantaloons, because if he would wear the ordinary 
«;-un-cases, she knew she could make them so well 
that no one would suspect the sex of the tailor. 

J>ut by this time Mr Barton has finished his pipe, 
the candle begins to burn low, and Mrs Barton goes 
to see if Nanny has succeeded in lulling Walter to 
sleep. Nanny is that moment putting him in the 
little cot by his mother's bedside ; the head, with 
its thin wavelets of brown hair, indents the little 
pillow ; and a tiny, waxen, dimpled fist hides the 
rosy lips, for baby is given to the infantine pec- 
cadillo of thumb-sucking. 

So Nanny could now join in the short evening 
prayer, and all could go to bed. 

Mrs Barton carried up-stairs the remainder of her 
heap of stockings, and laid them on a table close to 
her bedside, where also she placed a warm shawl, 
removing her candle, before she put it out, to a tin 
socket fixed at the head of her bed. Her body was 
very weary, but her heart was not heavy, in spite of 
Mr Woods the butcher, and the transitory nature of 
shoe-leather ; for her heart so overflowed with love, 
she felt sure she was near a fountain of love that 
would care for husband and babes better than she 
could foresee ; so she was soon asleep. But about 
half-past five o'clock in the morning, if there were 
any angels watching round her bed — and angels 
might be glad of such an office — they saw Mrs 
Barton rise up quietly, careful not to disturb the 
slumbering Amos, who was snoring the snore of the 



AMOS BAKTON. 



31 



just, light her candle, prop herself upright with the 
pillows, throw the warm shawl round her shoulders, 
and renew her attack on the heap of undarned stock- 
ings. She darned away until she heard Nanny stir- 
ring, and then drowsiness came with the dawn ; the 
candle was put out, and she sank into a doze. But 
at nine o'clock she was at the breakfast-table, busy 
cutting bread-and-butter for five hungry mouths, 
while Nanny, baby on one arm, in rosy cheeks, fat 
neck, and night-gown, brought in a jug of hot milk- 
and-water. Nearest her mother sits the nine-year- 
old Patty, the eldest child, whose sweet fair face 
is already rather grave sometimes, and who always 
wants to run up-stairs to save mamma's legs, which 
get so tired of an evening. Then there are four 
other blond heads — two boys and two girls, gradu- 
ally decreasing in size down to Chubby, who is 
making a round of her mouth to receive a bit 
of papa's " baton." Papa's attention w^as divided 
between petting Chubby, rebuking the noisy Fred, 
which he did with a somewhat excessive sharpness, 
and eating his own breakfast. He had not yet 
looked at Mamma, and did not know that her cheek 
was paler than usual. But Patty whispered, ^' Mam- 
ma, have you the headache ? " 

Happily coal was cheap in the neighbourhood of 
Shepperton, and Mr Hackit would any time let his 
horses draw a load for " the parson " without charge ; 
so there was a blazing fire in the sitting-room, and 
not without need, for the vicarage garden, as they 



3-2 



SCENKS OK CLERICAL LIFE. 



looked out on it IVom tlio bow-window, was hard 
witli l)lack IVost, and the sky had the white woolly 
loolc that ])ortends snow. 

liri'akfast over, Mr Barton mounted to his study, 
and occupied himself in the' first place with his 
letter to Mr Oldinport. It was very much the same 
sort of letter as most clergymen would have written 
under the same circumstances, except that instead 
of ;?crambulate, the Eev. Amos wrote preambulate, 
and instead of " if haply," " if happily," the con- 
tingency indicated being the reverse of happy. 
Mr Barton had not the gift of perfect accuracy 
in English orthography and syntax, which was un- 
fortunate, as he was known not to be a Hebrew 
scholar, and not in the least suspected of being an 
accomplished Grecian. These lapses, in a man who 
had gone through the Eleusinian mysteries of a uni- 
versity education, surprised the young ladies of his 
parish extremely ; especially the Misses Farquhar, 
whom he had once addressed in a letter as Dear 
Mads., apparently an abbreviation for Madams. The 
persons least surprised at the Rev. Amos's defi- 
ciencies were his clerical brethren, who had gone 
through the mysteries themselves. 

At eleven o'clock, Mr Barton walked forth in cape 
and boa, with the sleet driving in his face, to read 
prayers at the workhouse, euphuistically called the 

College." The College was a huge square stone 
building, standing on the best apology for an eleva- 
tion of ground that could be seen for about ten miles 



AMOS BARTON. 



33 



round Shepjoerton. A flat ugly district this ; de- 
pressing enough to look at even on the brightest 
days. The roads are black with coal-dust, the brick 
houses dingy with smoke ; and at that time — the 
time of handloom weavers — every other cottage had 
a loom at its window, where you might see a pale, 
sickly -looking man or woman pressing a narrow 
chest against a board, and doing a sort of tread- 
mill work with legs and arms. A troublesome dis- 
trict for a clergyman ; at least to one who, like 
Amos Barton, understood the cure of souls " in 
something more than an official sense ; for over 
and above the rustic stupidity furnished by the 
farm - labourers, the miners brought obstreperous 
animalism, and the weavers an acrid Kadicalism 
and Dissent. Indeed, Mrs Hackit often observed 
that the colliers, who many of them earned better 
wages than Mr Barton, ''passed their time in 
doing nothing but swilling ale and smoking, like the 
beasts that perish" (speaking, we may presume, in 
a remotely analogical sense) ; and in some of the 
ale-house corners the drink was flavoured by a dingy 
kind of infidelity, something like rinsings of Tom 
Paine in ditch-water. A certain amount of religious 
excitement created by the popular preaching of Mr 
Parry, Amos's predecessor, had nearly died out, and 
the religious life of Shepperton was falling back 
towards low-water mark. Here, you perceive, was 
a terrible stronghold of Satan ; and you may well 
pity the Rev. Amos Barton, who had to stand single- 
VOL. I. C 



34 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



handed and suimnon it to surrender. We read, in- 
deed, that tlie walls of Jericho fell down before the 
sound of trumpets; but we nowhere hear that those 
trnni[)ets were hoarse and feeble. Doubtless they 
^vere trumpets that o-ave fortli clear ringing tones, 
and sent a mighty vibration through brick and mor- 
tar. But the oratory of the Be v. Amos resembled 
rather a Belgian railway-horn, which shows praise- 
worthy intentions inadequately fulfilled. He often 
missed the right note both in public and private 
exhortation, and got a little angry in consequence. 
For though Amos thought himself strong, he did 
not feel himself strong. Nature had given him the 
opinion, but not the sensation. Without that opinion 
he would probably never have worn cambric bands, 
but would have been an excellent cabinetmaker and 
deacon of an Independent church, as his father was 
before him (he was not a shoemaker, as Mr Pilgrim 
had reported). He might then have sniffed long 
and loud in the corner of his pew in Gun Street 
Chapel ; he might have indulged in halting rhetoric 
at prayer-meetings, and have spoken faulty English 
in private life ; and these little infirmities would not 
have prevented him, honest faithful man that he 
was, from being a shining light in the Dissenting 
circle of Bridgeport. A tallow dip, of the long-eight 
description, is an excellent thing in the kitchen 
candlestick, and Betty's nose and eye are not sen- 
sitive to the difference between it and the finest 
w^ax ; it is only when you stick it in the silver 



AMOS BAETOX. 



35 



candlestick, and introduce it into the drawing-room, 
that it seems plebeian, dim, and ineffectual. Alas 
for the worthy man who. like that candle, gets 
himself into the \\Tong place I It is only the veiy 
largest souls who vri]l be able to appreciate and 
pity him — who will discern and love sincerity of 
purpose amid all the bungling feebleness of achieve- 
ment. 

But now Amos Barton has made his way through 
the sleet as far as the College, has thrown off his 
hat, cape, and boa, and is reading, in the drear\^ 
stone-floored dining-room, a portion of the morning 
service to the inmates seated on the benches before 
him. Eemember, the Xew Poor-law had not yet 
come into operation, and Mr Barton was not acting 
as paid chaplain of the Union, but as the pastor who 
had the cure of all souls in his parish, pauper as 
well as other. After the prayers he always ad- 
dressed to them a short discourse on some subject 
suggested by the lesson for the day, striving if by 
this means some edif^nng matter might find its way 
into the pauper mind and conscience — perhaps a 
task as tr^ung as you could well imagine to the 
faith and patience of any honest clergyman. For, 
on the very first bench, these were the faces on 
which his eye had to rest, watching whether there 
was any stirring under the stagnant surface. 

Eight in front of him — probably because he was 
stone-deaf, and it was deemed more edifying to hear 
nothing at a short distance than at a long one — sat 



3G 



SCKNKS OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



" (11(1 ]\T,axiim/' as ho was faniiliarly called, his real 
|)atr(»nyiiiio remaining a mystery to most persons. 
A liiu' |>liilological sense discerns in this cognomen 
an indication that the paujjer patriarch had once 
been considered pithy and sententious in his speech; 
but now the weight of ninety-five years lay heavy 
on his tongue as well as on his ears, and he sat 
before the clergyman with protruded chin, and 
munching mouth, and eyes that seemed to look 
at emptiness. 

Next to him sat Poll Fodge — known to the 
magistracy of her county as Mary Higgins — a one- 
eyed woman, with a scarred and seamy face, the 
most notorious rebel in the workhouse, said to have 
once thrown her broth over the master's coat-tails, 
and who, in spite of nature's apparent safeguards 
against that contingency, had contributed to the 
perpetuation of the Fodge characteristics in the 
person of a small boy, who was behaving naughtily 
on one of the back benches. Miss Fodge fixed her 
one sore eye on Mr Barton with a sort of hardy 
defiance. 

Beyond this member of the softer sex, at the end 
of the bench, sat " Silly Jim," a young man afflicted 
with hydrocephalus, who rolled his liead from side 
to side, and gazed at the point of his nose. These 
were the supporters of Old Maxum on his riglit. 

On his left sat Mr Fitchett, a tall fellow, who had 
once been a footman in the Oldinport family, and in 
that giddy elevation had enunciated a contemptuous 



AMOS BAETO]S. 



37 



opinion of boiled beef, which had been traditionally 
handed down in Shepperton as the direct cause of 
his ultimate reduction to pauper commons. His 
calves were now shrunken, and his hair was grey 
without the aid of powder ; but he still carried his 
chin as if he were conscious of a stiff cravat ; he set 
his dilapidated hat on with a knowing inclination 
towards the left ear ; and when he was on field- 
work, he carted and uncarted the manure with a 
sort of flunkey grace, the ghost of that jaunty 
demeanour with which he used to usher in my 
lady's morning visitors. The flunkey nature was 
nowhere completely subdued but in his stomach, 
and he still divided society into gentry, gentry's 
flunkeys, and the people who provided for them. 
A clergyman without a flunkey was an anomaly, 
belonging to neither of these classes. Mr Fitchett 
had an irrepressible tendency to drowsiness under 
spiritual instruction, and in the recurrent regularity 
with which he dozed off until he nodded and awaked 
himself, he looked not unlike a piece of mechanism, 
ingeniously contrived for measuring the length of 
Mr Barton's discourse. 

Perfectly wide-awake, on the contrary, was his 
left-hand neighbour, Mrs Brick, one of those hard 
undying old women, to whom age seems to have 
given a network of wrinkles, as a coat of magic 
armour against the attacks of winters, warm or cold. 
The point on which Mrs Brick was still sensitive — 
the theme on which you might possibly excite her 



38 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Iiopc and (Var — was simff. It seemed to bo an em- 
Italiiiin.L;- powder, helping her soul to do the office 
of sail. 

And now, eke out an audience of which this 
front bencliful was a sample, with a certain number 
of refractory children, over whom Mr Spratt, the 
master of the workhouse, exercised an irate sur- 
veillance, and I think you will admit that the 
university -taught clergyman, whose office it is to 
bring home the gospel to a handful of such souls, 
has a sufficiently hard task. For, to have any chance 
of success, short of miraculous intervention, he must 
bring his geographical, chronological, exegetical 
mind pretty nearly to the pauper point of view, 
or of no view ; he must have some approximate 
conception of the mode in which the doctrines that 
have so much vitality in the plenum of his own 
brain will comport themselves m vacuo — that is to 
say, in a brain that is neither geographical, chrono- 
logical, nor exegetical. It is a flexible imagination 
that can take such a leap as that, and an adroit 
tongue that can adapt its speech to so unfamiliar 
a position. The Eev. Amos Barton had neither 
that flexible imagination, nor that adroit tongue. 
He talked of Israel and its sins, of chosen vessels, 
of the Paschal lamb, of blood as a medium of recon- 
ciliation ; and he strove in this way to convey 
religious truth within reach of the Fodge and Fit- 
chett mind. This very morning, the first lesson 
was the twelfth chapter of Exodus, and Mr Barton's 



AMOS BARTON. 



39 



exposition turned on unleavened bread. Nothing in 
the world more suited to the simple understanding 
than instruction through familiar types and sym- 
bols ! But there is always this danger attending 
it, that the interest or comprehension of your hearers 
may stop short precisely at the point where your 
spiritual interpretation begins. And Mr Barton this 
morning succeeded in carrying the pauper imagina- 
tion to the dough -tub, but unfortunately was not 
able to carry it upwards from that well-known object 
to the unknown truths which it was intended to 
shadow forth. 

Alas ! a natural incapacity for teaching, finished 
by keeping " terms " at Cambridge, where there are 
able mathematicians, and butter is sold by the yard, 
is not apparently the medium through which Chris- 
tian doctrine will distil as welcome dew on withered 
souls. 

And so, while the sleet outside was turning to un- 
questionable snow, and the stony dining-room looked 
darker and drearier, and Mr Fitchett was nodding 
his lowest, and Mr Spratt was boxing the boys' ears 
with a constant rinforzando, as he felt more keenly 
the approach of dinner-time, Mr Barton wound up 
his exhortation with something of the February 
chill at his heart as well as his feet. Mr Fitcliett, 
thoroughly roused now the instruction was at an 
end, obsequiously and gracefully advanced to help 
Mr Barton in putting on his cape, while Mrs Brick 
rubbed her withered forefinger round and round her 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



little slioo-sliapcd snuft-box, vainly seeking for the 
fraction of a pinch. I can't help thinking that if 
Mr l'>arton liad shaken into that little box a small 
portion of Scotch high-dried, he might have pro- 
duced something more like an amiable emotion in 
l\rrs Ih-ick's mind than anything she had felt under 
liis morning's exposition of the unleavened bread. 
But our good Amos laboured under a deficiency of 
small tact as well as of small cash ; and when he 
observed the action of the old woman's forefinger, 
he said, in his brusque way, " So your snuff is all 
gone, eh?" 

Mrs Brick's eyes twinkled with the visionary hope 
that the parson might be intending to replenish her 
box, at least mediately, tlirough the present of a 
small copper. 

" Ah, well ! you'll soon be going where there is 
no more snuff. You'll be in need of mercy then. 
You must remember that you may have to seek for 
mercy and not find it, just as you're seeking for 
snuff." 

At the first sentence of this admonition, the 
twinkle subsided from Mrs Brick's eyes. The lid 
of her box went " click ! " and her heart was shut 
up at the same moment. 

But now Mr Barton's attention was called for by 
Mr Spratt, who was dragging a small and unwilling 
boy from the rear. Mr Spratt was a small-featured, 
small- statured man, with a remarkable power of 
language, mitigated by hesitation, who piqued him- 



AMOS BAETON; 



41 



self on expressing unexceptionable sentiments in 
unexceptionable language on all occasions. 

" Mr Barton, sir — aw — aw — excuse my trespass- 
ing on your time — aw — to heg that you will ad- 
minister a rebuke to this boy ; he is — aw — aw — 
most inveterate in ill - behaviour during service- 
time." 

The inveterate culprit was a boy of seven, vainly 
contending against a cold in his nose by feeble 
sniffing. But no sooner had Mr Spratt uttered his 
impeachment, than Miss Fodge rushed forward and 
placed herself between Mr Barton and the accused. 

That's my child. Muster Barton," she exclaimed, 
further manifesting her maternal instincts by apply- 
ing her apron to her offspring's nose. " He's al'ys 
a-findin' faut wi' him, and a-poundin' him for nothin'. 
Let him goo an' eat his roost goose as is a-smellin' 
up in our noses while we're a-swallering them greasy 
broth, an' let my boy alooan." 

Mr Spratt's small eyes flashed, and he was in 
danger of uttering sentiments not unexceptionable 
before the clergyman ; but Mr Barton, foreseeing 
that a prolongation of this episode would not be to 
edification, said ^' Silence ! " in his severest tones. 

" Let me hear no abuse. Your boy is not likely 
to behave well, if you set him the example of being 
saucy." Then stooping down to Master Fodge, and 
taking him by the shoulder, "Do you like being 
beaten?" 

"No-a." 



■i'2 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



" Then wliat a silly boy you are to be naughty. 
If you wvvi', not naughty, you wouldn't be beaten. 
I)Ul if you are naughty, God will be angry, as well 
as Mr Spratt ; and God can burn you for ever. That 
will be worse than being beaten." 

IMaster Fodge's countenance was neither affirma- 
tive nor negative of this proposition. 

" But," continued Mr Barton, " if you will be a 
good boy, God will love you, and you will grow 
up to be a good man. Now, let me hear next 
Thursday that you liave been a good boy." 

Master Fodge had no distinct vision of the benefit 
that would accrue to him from this change of courses. 
But Mr Barton, being aware that Miss Fodge had 
touched on a delicate subject in alluding to the 
roast goose, was determined to witness no more 
polemics between her and Mr Spratt, so, saying 
good morning to the latter, he hastily left the 
College. 

The snow was falling in thicker and thicker 
flakes, and already the vicarage-garden was cloaked 
in white as he passed through the gate. Mrs Barton 
heard him open the door, and ran out of the sitting- 
room to meet him. 

" I'm afraid your feet are very wet, dear. What 
a terrible morning ! Let me take your hat. Your 
slippers are at the fire." 

Mr Barton was feeling a little cold and cross. It 
is difficult, when you have been doing disagreeable 
duties, without praise, on a snowy day, to attend to 



AMOS BARTON. 



43 



the very minor morals. So he showed no recogni- 
tion of Milly's attentions, but simply said, " Fetch 
me my dressing-gown, will you ? " 

" It is down, dear. I thought you wouldn't go 
into the study, because you said you would letter 
and number the books for the Lending Library. 
Patty and I have been covering them, and they are 
all ready in the sitting-room." 

" Oh, I can't do those this morning," said Mr 
Barton, as he took off his boots and put his feet 
into the slippers Milly had brought him ; " you 
must put them away into the parlour." 

The sitting-room was also the day nursery and 
schoolroom ; and while Mamma's back was turned. 
Dickey, the second boy, had insisted on superseding 
Chubby in the guidance of a headless horse, of the 
red-wafered species, which she was drawing round 
the room, so that when Papa opened the door 
Chubby was giving tongue energetically. 

" Milly, some of these children must go away. I 
want to be quiet." 

" Yes, dear. Hush, Chubby ; go with Patty, and 
see what Nanny is getting for our dinner. Now, 
Fred and Sophy and Dickey, help me to carry these 
books into the parlour. There are three for Dickey. 
Carry them steadily." 

Papa meanwhile settled himself in his easy-chair, 
and took up a work on Episcopacy, which he had 
from the Clerical Book Society ; thinking he would 
finish it and return it this afternoon, as he was going 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



to tlio Clerical Meeting at Milby Vicarage, where 
i>()()k Society had its headquarters. 
Tlic Clericiil Meetings and Book Society, which 
liad been Ibuiidcd some eight or ten months, had 
hud a noticeable effect on the Rev. Amos Barton. 
When he first came to Slicpperton he was simply 
an evangelical clergyman, whose Christian expe- 
riences had commenced under the teaching of the 
Rev. Mr Johns, of Gun Street Chapel, and had been 
consolidated at Cambridge under the influence of 
Mr Simeon. John Newton and Thomas Scott were 
his doctrinal ideals ; he would have taken in the 
' Christian Observer ' and the ' Record,' if he could 
have afforded it ; his anecdotes were chiefly of the 
pious-jocose kind, current in Dissenting circles ; and 
he thought an Episcopalian Establishment unobjec- 
tionable. 

But by this time the effect of the Tractarian agi- 
tation was beginning to be felt in backward provin- 
cial regions, and the Tractarian satire on the Low- 
Church party was beginning to tell even on those 
who disavowed or resisted Tractarian doctrines. 
The vibration of an intellectual movement was felt 
from the golden head to the miry toes of the Estab- 
lishment ; and so it came to pass that, in the district 
round Milby, the market-town close to Shepperton, 
the clergy had agreed to have a clerical meeting every 
month wherein they would exercise their intellects 
by discussing theological and ecclesiastical questions, 
and cement their brotherly love by discussing a 



AMOS BARTON. 



46 



good dinner. A Book Society naturally suggested 
itself as an adjunct of this agreeable plan ; and thus, 
you perceive, there was provision made for ample 
friction of the clerical mind. 

Now, the Kev. Amos Barton was one of those men 
who have a decided will and opinion of their own ; 
he held himself bolt upright, and had no self-dis- 
trust. He would march very determinedly along 
the road he thought best ; but then it was wonder- 
fully easy to convince him which was the best road. 
And so a very little unwonted reading and unwonted 
discussion made him see that an Episcopalian Estab- 
lishment was much more than unobjectionable, and 
on many other points he began to feel that he held 
opinions a little too far ■- sighted and profoimd to 
be crudely and suddenly communicated to ordinary 
minds. He was like an onion that has been rubbed 
with spices ; the strong original odour was blended 
with something new and foreign. The Low-Church 
onion still offended refined High -Church nostrils, 
and the new spice was unwelcome to the palate of 
the genuine onion-eater. 

We will not accompany him to the Clerical Meet- 
ing to-day, because we shall probably want to go 
thither some day when he will be absent. And just 
now I am bent on introducing you to Mr Bridmain 
and the Countess Czerlaski, with whom Mr and Mrs 
Barton are invited to dine to-morrow. 



46 



CHAPTEE III. 

Outside, the moon is shedding its cold light on the 
cold snow, and the white -bearded fir-trees round 
Camp Villa are casting a blue shadow across the 
white ground, while the Rev. Amos Barton and his 
wife are audibly crushing the crisp snow beneath 
their feet, as, about seven o'clock on Friday even- 
ing, they approach the door of the above-named 
desirable country residence, containing dining, break- 
fast, and di'awing rooms, &c., situated only half a 
mile from the market-town of Milby. 

Inside, there is a bright fire in the drawing-room,, 
casting a pleasant but uncertain light on the deli- 
cate silk dress of a lady who is reclining behind a 
screen in the corner of the sofa, and allowing you to 
discern that the hair of the gentleman who is seated 
in the arm-chair opposite, with a newspaper over his 
knees, is becoming decidedly grey. A little " King 
Charles," with a crimson ribbon round his neck, who 
has been lying curled up in the very middle of the 
hearth-rug, has just discovered that that zone is too 



AMOS BAETON. 



47 



hot for him, and is jumping on the sofa, evidently 
with the intention of accommodating his person on 
the silk gown. On the table there are two wax- 
candles, which will be lighted as soon as the ex- 
pected knock is heard at the door. 

The knock is heard, the candles are lighted, and 
presently Mr and Mrs Barton are nshered in — Mr 
Barton erect and clerical, in a feultless tie and 
shining cranium ; Mrs Barton graceful in a newly- 
turned black silk. 

" Xow this is charming of you," said the Countess 
Czerlaski, advancing to meet them, and embracing 
Milly with careful elegance. " I am really ashamed 
of my selfishness in asking my friends to come and 
see me in this frightful weather." Then, giving her 
hand to Amos, And you, Mr Barton, whose time is 
so precious ! But I am doing a good deed in draw- 
ing you away from your labours. I have a plot to 
prevent you from martyrising yourself." 

While this greeting was going forward, Mr Brid- 
main, and Jet the spaniel, looked on with the air of 
actors who had no idea of by-play. Mr Bridmain, a 
stiff and rather thick-set man, gave his welcome with 
a laboured cordiality. It was astonishing how very 
little he resembled his beautiful sister. 

For the Countess Czerlaski was undeniably beauti- 
ful. As she seated herself by Mrs Barton on the 
sofa, Milly's eyes, indeed, rested — must it be con- 
fessed ? — chiefly on the details of the tasteful dress, 
the rich silk of a pinkish lilac hue (the Countess 



•18 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



always \\ov(' delicate colours in an evening), the 
Iilack lace pelerine, and the black lace veil falling at 
llu' back of the small closely-braided head. For 
Milly had one weakness — don't love her any the 
less for it, it was a pretty woman's weakness — she was 
fond of dress ; and often, when she was making up her 
own economical millinery, she had romantic visions 
how nice it would be to put on really handsome 
stylish things — to have very stiff balloon sleeves, 
for example, without which a woman's dress was 
nought in those days. You and I, too, reader, have 
our weakness, have we not ? which makes us think 
foohsh things now and then. Perhaps it may lie in 
an excessive admiration for small hands and feet, a 
tall lithe figure, large dark eyes, and dark silken 
braided hair. All these the Countess possessed, 
and she had, moreover, a delicately-formed nose, the 
least bit curved, and a clear brunette complexion. 
Her mouth, it must be admitted, receded too much 
from her nose and chin, and to a prophetic eye 
threatened ''nut-crackers" in advanced age. But 
by the light of fire and wax-candles that age seemed 
very far off indeed, and you would have said that 
the Countess was not more than thirty. 

Look at the two women on the sofa together ! 
The large, fair, mild-eyed Milly is timid even in 
friendship : it is not easy to her to speak of the 
affection of which her heart is full. The lithe, dark, 
thin-lipped Countess is racking her small brain for 
caressing words and charming exaggerations. 



AMOS BARTON. 



49 



And how are all the cherubs at home?" said the 
Countess, stooping to pick up Jet, and without wait- 
ing for an answer. I have been kept in-doors by a 
cold ever since Sunday, or I should not have rested 
without seeing you. What have you done with those 
wretched singers, Mr Barton ? " 

" Oh, we have got a new choir together, which will 
go on very well with a little practice. I was quite 
determined that the old set of singers should be dis- 
missed. I had given orders that they should not 
sing the wedding psalm, as they call it, again, to 
make a new -married couple look ridiculous, and 
they sang it in defiance of me. I could put them 
into the Ecclesiastical Court, if I chose for to do so, 
for lifting up their voices in church in opposition to 
the clergyman." 

^' And a most wholesome discipline that would be," 
said the Countess ; " indeed, you are too patient and 
forbearing, Mr Barton. For my part, / lose my 
temper when I see how far you are from being 
appreciated in that miserable Shepperton." 

If, as is probable, Mr Barton felt at a loss what to 
say in reply to the insinuated compliment, it was a 
relief to him that dinner was announced just then, 
and that he had to offer his arm to the Countess. 

As Mr Bridmain was leading Mrs Barton to the 
dining-room, he observed, " The weather is very 
severe." 

"Very, indeed," said Milly. 

Mr Bridmain studied conversation as an art. To 
VOL. I. D 



50 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



ladii's ho spoke of the weather, and was accustomed 
to (M)iisi(l(U' it under three points of view : as a ques- 
tion of climate in general, comparing England with 
other countries in this respect ; as a personal ques- 
tion, inquiring how it affected his lady interlocutor 
in particular ; and as a question of probabilities, 
discussing whether there would bo a change or a 
continuance of the present atmospheric conditions. 
To gentlemen he talked politics, and he read two 
daily papers expressly to qualify himself for this 
function. Mr Barton thought him a man of con- 
siderable political information, but not of lively 
parts. 

" And so you are always to hold your Clerical 
Meetings at Mr Ely's ? " said the Countess, between 
her spoonfuls of soup. (The soup was a little over- 
spiced. Mrs Short of Camp Villa, who was in the 
habit of letting her best apartments, gave only mod- 
erate wages to her cook.) 

" Yes," said Mr Barton ; " Milby is a central place, 
and there are many conveniences in having only one 
point of meeting." 

Well," continued the Countess, ^' every one seems 
to agree in giving the precedence to Mr Ely. For 
my part, I cannot admire him. His preaching is too 
cold for me. It has no fervour — no heart. I often 
say to my brother, it is a great comfort to me that 
Shepperton Church is not too far off for us to go to ; 
don't I, Edmund?" 

''Yes," answered Mr Bridmain ; ''they show us into 



AMOS BARTON. 



51 



such a bad pew at Milby — just where there is a 
draught from that door. I caught a stiff neck the 
first time I went there." 

" Oh, it is the cold in the pulpit that affects me, 
not the cold in the pew. I was writing to my friend 
Lady Porter this morning, and telling her all about 
my feelings. She and I think alike on such matters. 
She is most anxious that when Sir William has an 
opportunity of giving away the living at their place, 
Dippley, they should have a thoroughly zealous, 
clever man, there. I have been describing a certain 
friend of mine to her, who, I think, would be just 
to her mind. And there is such a pretty rectory, 
Milly ; shouldn't I like to see you the mistress of it?" 

Milly smiled and blushed slightly. The Rev. Amos 
blushed very red, and gave a little embarrassed laugh 
— he could rarely keep his nmscles within the limits 
of a smile. 

At this moment John, the man-servant, approached 
Mrs Barton with a gravy -tureen, and also with a 
slight odour of the stable, which usually adhered to 
him throughout his in-door functions. John was 
rather nervous ; and the Countess, happening to 
speak to him at this inopportune moment, the 
tureen slipped and emptied itself on Mrs Barton's 
newly-turned black silk. 

" Oh, horror ! Tell Alice to come directly and 
rub Mrs Barton's dress," said the Countess to the 
trembling John, carefully abstaining from approach- 
ing the gravy-sprinkled spot on the floor with her 



52 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



own lilac silk. ]^ut IMr Briclmain, who had a strictly 
])ri\ !ito interest in silks, good-naturedly jumped up 
niul applied his napkin at once to Mrs Barton's 

11. 

Milly felt a little inward anguish, but no ill-tem- 
per, and tried to make light of the matter for the 
sake of John as well as others. The Countess felt 
inwardly thankful that her own delicate silk had 
escaped, but threw out lavish interjections of dis- 
tress and indignation. 

" Dear saint that you are," she said, when Milly 
laughed, and suggested that, as her silk was not 
very glossy to begin with, the dim patch would not 
be much seen ; " you don't mind about these things, 
I know. Just the same sort of thing happened to 
me at the Princess Wengstein's one day, on a pink 
satin. I was in an agony. But you are so indiffer- 
ent to dress ; and well you may be. It is you who 
make dress pretty, and not dress that makes you 
pretty." 

Alice, the buxom lady's-maid, wearing a much 
better dress than Mrs Barton's, now appeared to 
take Mr Bridmain's place in retrieving the mischief, 
and after a great amount of supplementary rubbing, 
composure was restored, and the business of dining 
was continued. 

\\nien John was recounting his accident to the 
cook in the kitchen, he observed, " Mrs Barton's a 
hamable woman ; I'd a deal sooner ha' throwed the 
gravy o'er the Countess's fine gownd. But laws ! 



AMOS BARTON. 



53 



what tantrums she'd ha' been in arter the visitors 
was gone." 

You'd a deal sooner not ha' throwed it down at 
all, / should think," responded the unsympathetic 
cook, to whom John did not make love. " Who 
d'you think' s to make gravy anuff, if you're to baste 
people's gownds wi' it ? " 

" Well," suggested John, humbly, " you should wet 
the bottom of the duree a bit, to hold it from slippin'." 

Wet your granny ! " returned the cook ; a retort 
which she probably regarded in the light of a reduc- 
tio ad ahsurdum, and which in fact reduced John to 
silence. 

Later on in the evening, while John was removing 
the tea-things from the drawing-room, and brushing 
the crumbs from the table-cloth with an accompany- 
ing hiss, such as he was wont to encourage himself 
with in rubbing down Mr Bridmain's horse, the Eev. 
Amos Barton drew from his pocket a thin green- 
covered pamphlet, and, presenting it to the Countess, 
said — 

''You were pleased, I think, with my sermon on 
Christmas Day. It has been printed in ' The Pulpit,' 
and I thought you might like a copy." 

" That indeed I shall. I shall quite value the op- 
portunity of reading that sermon. There was such 
depth in it ! — such argument ! It was not a sermon 
to be heard only once. I am delighted that it should 
become generally known, as it will be, now it is 
printed in 'The Pulpit.'" 



SCENES OF CLEPxICAL LIFE. 



" Yes," said Milly innocently, " I was so pleased 
with tlio editor's letter." And she drew out her 
little pocket-book, where she carefully treasured the 
editorial autograph, while Mr Barton laughed and 
blushed, and said, " Nonsense, Milly ! " 

" You see," she said, giving the letter to the 
Countess, " I am very proud of the praise my hus- 
band gets." 

The sermon in question, by the by, was an 
extremely argumentative one on the Incarnation ; 
which, as it was preached to a congregation not 
one of whom had any doubt of that doctrine, and to 
whom the Socinians therein confuted were as unknown 
as the Arimaspians, was exceedingly well adapted 
to trouble and confuse the Sheppertonian mind. 

"Ah," said the Countess, returning the editor's 
letter, "he may well say he will bo glad of other 
sermons from the same source. But I would rather 
you should publish your sermons in an independent 
volume, Mr Barton ; it would be so desirable to have 
them in that shape. For instance, I could send a 
copy to the Dean of Eadborough. And there is 
Lord Blarney, whom I knew before he was Chan- 
cellor. I was a special favourite of his, and you 
can't think what sweet things he used to say to me. 
I shall not resist the temptation to write to him one 
of these days sans fagon, and tell him how he ought 
to dispose of the next vacant living in his gift." 

Whether Jet the spaniel, being a much more 
knowing dog than was suspected, wished to express 



AMOS BARTON. 



55 



his disapproval of the Countess's last speech, as not 
accordant with his ideas of wisdom and veracity, I 
cannot say ; but at this moment he jumped off her 
lap, and turning his back upon her, placed one paw 
on the fender, and held the other up to warm, as if 
affecting to abstract himself from the current of con- 
versation. 

But now Mr Bridmain brought out the chess-board, 
and Mr Barton accepted his challenge to play a 
game, with immense satisfaction. The Eev. Amos 
was very fond of chess, as most people are who can 
continue through many years to create interesting 
vicissitudes in the game, by taking long -meditated 
moves with their knights, and subsequently discover- 
ing that they have thereby exposed their queen. 

Chess is a silent game ; and the Countess's chat 
with Milly is in quite an under-tone — probably relat- 
ing to women's matters that it would be impertinent 
for us to listen to ; so we will leave Camp Villa, and 
proceed to Milby Vicarage, where Mr Farquhar has 
sat out two other guests with whom he has been 
dining at Mr Ely's, and is now rather wearying that 
reverend gentleman by his protracted small-talk. 

Mr Ely was a tall, dark -haired, distinguished- 
looking man of three -and -thirty. By the laity of 
Milby and its neighbourhood he was regarded as a 
man of quite remarkable powers and learning, who 
must make a considerable sensation in London 
pulpits and drawing-rooms on his occasional visits 
to tlie metropolis ; and by his brother clergy he was 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



roo;iir(l(Hl as a discreet and agreeable fellow. Mr 
l']ly never i^'ot into a warm discussion ; he suggested 
what iiii_L;lit be thought, but rarely said what he 
tliought liimsolf ; ho never let either men or women 
see that he was laughing at tlicm, and ho never 
gave any one an opportunity of laughing at him. 
In one thing only he was injudicious. He parted 
his dark wavy hair down the middle ; and as his 
head was rather flat than otherwise, that style of 
coiffure was not advantageous to him. 

Mr Farquhar, though not a parishioner of Mr Ely's, 
was one of his warmest admirers, and thought he 
would make an unexceptionable son-in-law, in spite 
of his being of no particular " family." Mr Farquhar 
was susceptible on the point of " blood " — his own 
circulating fluid, which animated a short and some- 
what flabby person, being, he considered, of very 
superior quality. 

" By the by," he said, with a certain pomposity 
counteracted by a lisp, ^'what an ath Barton makth 
of himthelf, about that Bridmain and the Counteth, 
ath she callth herthelf. After you were gone the 
other evening, Mithith Farquhar wath telling him 
the general opinion about them in the neighbour- 
hood, and he got quite red and angry. Bletli your 
thoul, he believeth the whole thtory about her Polish 
huthband and hith wonderful ethcapeth ; and ath for 
her — why, he thinkth her perfection, a woman of 
motht refined feelingth, and no end of thtuff." 

Mr Ely smiled. " Some people would say our 



AMOS BARTON. 



67 



friend Barton was not the best judge of refinement. 
Perhaps tlie lady flatters him a little, and we men 
are susceptible. She goes to Shepperton Church 
every Sunday — drawn there, let us suppose, by Mr 
Barton's eloquence." 

" Pthaw," said Mr Farquhar : now, to my mind, 
you have only to look at that woman to thee what 
she ith — throwing her eyth about when she comth 
into church, and drething in a way to attract atten- 
tion. I should thay, she'th tired of her brother 
Bridmain and looking out for another brother with 
a thtronger family likeneth. Mithith Farquhar ith 
very fond of Mithith Barton, and ith quite dithtrethed 
that she should athothiate with thuch a woman, tho 
she attacked him on the thubject purpothly. But I 
tell her it'th of no uthe, with a pig-headed fellow 
like him. Barton' th well-meaning enough, but tho 
contheited. I've left off giving him my advithe." 

Mr Ely smiled inwardly and said to himself, 
" AVhat a punishment ! " But to Mr Farquhar he 
said, " Barton might be more judicious, it must be 
confessed." He was getting tired, and did not want 
to develop the subject. 

"Why, nobody vithit-tli them but the Bartonth," 
continued Mr Farquhar, "and why should thuch 
people come here, unleth they had particular rea- 
thonth for preferring a neighbourhood where they 
are not known ? Pooh ! it looktli bad on the very 
fathe of it. You called on them, now ; how did you 
find them?" 



58 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Oh ! — i\Ir J>ritlinain strikes mo as a common sort 
of mail, who is making an effort to seem wise and 
well -bird. He comes down on one tremendously 
with political information, and seems knowing about 
iho king of tlie French. The Countess is certainly 
a handsome woman, but she puts on the grand air 
a little too powerfully. Woodcock was immensely 
taken with her, and insisted on his wife's calling on 
her and asking her to dinner ; but I think Mrs 
Woodcock turned restive after the first visit, and 
wmddn't invite her again." 

" Ha, ha ! Woodcock hath alwaytli a thoft place 
in hith heart for a pretty fathe. It'-th odd how he 
came to marry that plain woman, and no fortune 
either." 

" Mysteries of the tender passion," said Mr Ely. 
" I am not initiated yet, you know." 

Here Mr Farquhar's carriage was announced, and 
as we have not found his conversation particularly 
brilliant under the stimulus of Mr Ely's exceptional 
presence, we will not accompany him home to the 
less exciting atmosphere of domestic life. 

Mr Ely threw himself with a sense of relief into 
his easiest chair, set his feet on the hobs, and in this 
attitude of bachelor enjoyment began to read Bishop 
Jebb's Memoirs. 



59 



CHAPTEE IV. 

I AM by no means sure that if the good people of 
Milby had known the truth about the Countess 
Czerlaski, they would not have been considerably 
disappointed to find that it was very far from being 
as bad as they imagined. Nice distinctions are 
troublesome. It is so much easier to say that a 
thing is black, than to discriminate the particular 
shade of brown, blue, or green, to which it really 
belongs. It is so much easier to make up your 
mind that your neighbour is good for nothing, than 
to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige 
you to modify that opinion. 

Besides, think of all the virtuous declamation, all 
the penetrating observation, which had been built 
up entirely on the fundamental position that the 
Countess was a very objectionable person indeed, 
and which would be utterly overturned and nullified 
by the destruction of that premiss. Mrs Pliipps, 
the banker's wife, and Mrs Landor, the attorney's 
wife, had invested part of their reputation for acute- 



GO 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



ness in the supposition that Mr Bridmain was not 
the Countess's brother. Moreover, Miss Phipps was 
conscious tliat if the Countess was not a disreput- 
able person, she, Miss Phipps, had no conipcnsat- 
ini^ suporit)rity in virtue to set against the other 
hidy's manifest superiority in personal charms. Miss 
riiipps's stnm})yfigure and unsuccessful attire, instead 
of looking down from a mount of virtue with an 
aureole round its head, would then be seen on the 
same level and in the same light as the Countess 
Czerlaski's Diana-like form and well-chosen drapery. 
Miss Phipps, for her part, didn't like dressing for 
effect — she had always avoided that style of appear- 
ance which was calculated to create a sensation. 

Then what amusing innuendoes of the Milby gen- 
tlemen over their wine would have been entirely 
frustrated and reduced to nought, if you had told 
them that the Countess had really been guilty of no 
misdemeanours which demanded her exclusion from 
strictly respectable society ; that her husband had 
been the veritable Count Czerlaski, who had had 
wonderful escapes, as she said, and who, as she did 
not say, but as was said in certain circulars once 
folded by her fair hands, had subsequently given 
dancing lessons in the metropolis 5 that Mr Bridmain 
was neither more nor less than her half-brother, who, 
by unimpeached integrity and industry, had won a 
partnership in a silk -manufactory, and thereby a 
moderate fortune, that enabled him to retire, as you 
see, to study politics, the weather, and the art of 



AMOS BARTON. 



61 



conversation at his leisure. Mr Bridmain, in fact, 
quadragenarian baclielor as lie was, felt extremely 
well pleased to receive his sister in her widowhood, 
and to shine in the reflected light of her beauty and 
title. Every man who is not a monster, a mathema- 
tician, or a mad philosopher, is the slave of some 
woman or other. Mr Bridmain had put his neck 
under the yoke of his handsome sister, and though 
his soul was a very little one — of the smallest de- 
scription indeed — he would not have ventured to call 
it his own. He might be slightly recalcitrant now 
and then, as is the habit of long-eared pachyderms, 
under the thong of the fair Countess's tongue ; but 
there seemed little probability that he would ever 
get his neck loose. Still, a bachelor's heart is an 
outlying fortress that some fair enemy may any day 
take either by storm or stratagem ; and there was 
always the possibility that Mr Bridmain's first nup- 
tials might occur before the Countess was quite sure 
of her second. As it was, however, he submitted 
to all his sister's caprices, never grumbled because 
her dress and her maid formed a considerable item 
beyond her own little income of sixty pounds per 
annum, and consented to lead with her a migratory 
life, as personages on the debatable ground between 
aristocracy and commonalty, instead of settling in 
some spot where his five hundred a-year might have 
won him the definite dignity of a parochial magnate. 

The Countess had her views in choosing a quiet 
provincial place like Milby. After three years of 



0)2 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



widowhood, sli(» liiid brought lior feelings to con- 
ti'iiiithite giving a successor to her lamented Czer- 
hiski, whose fine whiskers, fine air, and romantic 
fortunes liad won her heart ten years ago, when, 
as pretty Caroline Bridmain, in the full bloom of 
five-and-twenty, she was governess to Lady Porter's 
daughters, wlioni he initiated into the mysteries of 
the pas de basque, and the Lancers' quadrilles. She 
had had seven years of sufficiently happy matrimony 
with Czerlaski, who had taken her to Paris and Ger- 
many, and introduced her there to many of his old 
friends with large titles and small fortunes. So that 
the fair Caroline had had considerable experience of 
life, and had gathered therefrom, not, indeed, any 
very ripe and comprehensive wisdom, but much ex- 
ternal polish, and certain practical conclusions of a 
very decided kind. One of these conclusions was, 
that there were things more solid in life than fine 
whiskers and a title, and that, in accepting a second 
husband, she would regard these items as quite sub- 
ordinate to a carriage and a settlement. Now, she 
had ascertained, by tentative residences, that the 
kind of bite she was angling for was difficult to be 
met with at watering-places, which were already 
preoccupied with abundance of angling beauties, and 
were chiefly stocked with men whose whiskers might 
be dyed, and whose incomes were still more problem- 
atic ; so she had determined on trying a neighbour- 
hood w4iere people were extremely well acquainted 
with each other's affairs, and where the women were 



AMOS BARTON. 



63 



mostly ill-dressed and ugly. Mr Bridmain's slow 
brain had adopted his sister's views, and it seemed 
to him that a woman so handsome and distinguished 
as the Countess must certainly make a match that 
might lift himself into the region of county celebri- 
ties, and give him at least a sort of cousinship to 
the quarter -sessions. 

All this, which was the simple truth, would have 
seemed extremely flat to the gossips of Milby, who 
had made up their minds to something much more 
exciting. There was nothing here so very detest- 
able. It is true, the Countess was a little vain, a 
little ambitious, a little selfish, a little shallow and 
frivolous, a little given to white lies. — But who con- 
siders such slight blemishes, such moral pimples as 
these, disqualifications for entering into the most 
respectable society ! Indeed, the severest ladies in 
Milby would have been perfectly aware that these 
characteristics would have created no wide distinc- 
tion between the Countess Czerlaski and themselves ; 
and since it was clear there was a wide distinction — 
why, it must lie in the possession of some vices from 
which they were undeniably free. 

Hence it came to pass that Milby respectability 
refused to recognise the Countess Czerlaski, in spite 
of her assiduous clmrch-going, and the deep disgust 
she was known to have expressed at the extreme 
paucity of the congregations on Ash -Wednesdays. 
So she began to feel that she had miscalculated the 
advantages of a neighbourhood where people are 



G4 SCExNES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

wi'll acqnainted with each other's private affairs, 
ruder tlioso cironmstances, you will imagine how 
wt'lcoinc \v;is tlie i)erfect credence and admiration 
she met with from Mr and Mrs Barton. She had 
been especially irritated by Mr Ely's behaviour to 
lier ; she felt sure that he was not in the least struck 
witli her beauty, that he quizzed her conversation, 
and that he sjjoke of her with a sneer. A woman 
always knows where she is utterly powerless, and 
shuns a coldly satirical eye as she would shun a 
Gorgon. And she was especially eager for clerical 
notice and friendship, not merely because that is 
quite the most respectable countenance to be ob- 
tained in society, but because she really cared about 
religious matters, and had an uneasy sense that she 
was not altogether safe in that quarter. She had 
serious intentions of becoming quite pious — without 
any reserves — when she had once got her carriage 
and settlement. Let us do this one sly trick, says 
Ulysses to Neoptolemus, and we will be perfectly 
honest ever after — 

aAA' ■^Su yap roi KTrj/xa rrjs viKtjs AajSeif, 
ToAfjLa • S'lKaioi 8' avdis eK(pavov/xe6a, 

The Countess did not quote Sophocles, but she said 
to herself, " Only this little bit of pretence and van- 
ity, and then I will be quite good, and make myself 
quite safe for another world." 

And as she had by no means such fine taste and 
insight in theological teaching as in costume, the 



AMOS BARTON. 



65 



Kev. Amos Barton seemed to her a man not only of 
learning — that is always nnderstood with a clergy- 
man — but of much power as a spiritual director. As 
for Milly, the Countess really loved her as well as 
the preoccupied state of her affections w^ould allow. 
For you have already perceived that there was one 
being to whom the Countess was absorbingly devoted, 
and to whose desires she made everything else sub- 
servient — namely, Caroline Czerlaski, nee Bridmain. 

Thus there was really not much affectation in her 
sweet speeches and attentions to Mr and Mrs Bar- 
ton. Still their friendship by no means adequately 
represented the object she liad in view when she 
came to Milby, and it had been for some time clear 
to her that she must suggest a new change of resi- 
dence to her brother. 

The thing we look forward to often comes to pass, 
but never precisely in the way we have imagined to 
ourselves. The Countess did actually leave Camp 
Villa before many months were past, but under cir- 
cumstances which had not at all entered into her 
contemplation. 



VOL. I. 



E 



66 



CHAPTEE V. 

TiiK Rev. Amos Barton, whose sad fortunes I ha,ve 
undertaken to relate, was, you perceive, in no respect 
an ideal or exceptional character ; and perhaps I am 
doing a bold thing to bespeak your sympathy on 
behalf of a man who was so very far from remark- 
able, — a man whose virtues were not heroic, and who 
had no undetected crime within his breast 5 who had 
not the slightest mystery hanging about him, but 
was palpably and unmistakably commonplace ; who 
was not even in love, but had had that complaint 
favourably many years ago. ^'An utterly uninter- 
esting character ! " I think I hear a lady reader 
exclaim — Mrs Farthingale, for example, who pre- 
fers the ideal in fiction ; to whom tragedy means 
ermine tippets, adultery, and murder ; and comedy, 
the adventures of some personage who is quite a 
" character." 

But, my dear madam, it is so very large a majority 
of your fellow-countrymen that are of this insignifi- 
cant stamp. At least eighty out of a hundred of 



AMOS BARTON. 



67 



your adult male fellow-Britons returned in the last 
census are neither extraordinarily silly, nor extra- 
ordinarily wicked, nor extraordinarily wise ; their 
eyes are neither deep and liquid with sentiment, nor 
sparkling with suppressed witticisms ; they have 
probably had no hairbreadth escapes or thrilling 
adventures ; their brains are certainly not pregnant 
with genius, and their passions have not manifested 
themselves at all after the fashion of a volcano. 
They are simply men of complexions more or less 
muddy, whose conversation is more or less bald and 
disjointed. Yet these commonplace people — many 
of them — bear a conscience, and have felt the sub- 
lime prompting to do the painful right ; they have 
their unspoken sorrows, and their sacred joys ; their 
hearts have perhaps gone out towards their first-born, 
and they have mourned over the irreclaimable dead. 
Nay, is there not a pathos in their very insignifi- 
cance — in our comparison of their dim and narrow 
existence with the glorious possibilities of that human 
nature which they share ? 

Depend upon it, you would gain unspeakably if 
you would learn with me to see some of the poetry 
and the pathos, the tragedy and the comedy, lying 
in the experience of a human soul that looks out 
through dull grey eyes, and that speaks in a voice 
of quite ordinary tones. In that case, I should have 
no fear of your not caring to know what farther be- 
fell the Kev. Amos Barton, or of your thinking the 
homely details I have to tell at all beneath your 



G8 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



atltMitioii. As it is, you can, if you please, decline 
to itur.suo my story farther ; and you will easily find 
reading more to your taste, since I learn from the 
newspapers that many remarkable novels, full of 
striking situations, thrilling incidents, and eloquent 
writing, have appeared only within the last season. 

Meanwhile, readers wdio have begun to feel an 
interest in the Rev. Amos Barton and his wife, will 
be glad to learn that Mr Oldinport lent the twenty 
l)()\nids. But twenty pounds are soon exhausted 
when twelve are due as back payment to the butcher, 
and when the possession of eight extra sovereigns 
in February weather is an irresistible temptation to 
order a new greatcoat. And though Mr Bridmain 
so far departed from the necessary economy entailed 
on him by the Countess's elegant toilette and ex- 
pensive maid, as to choose a handsome black silk, 
stiff, as his experienced eye discerned, with the 
genuine strength of its own texture, and not with 
the factitious strength of gum, and present it to Mrs 
Barton, in retrieval of the accident that had occurred 
at his table, yet, dear me — as every husband has 
heard — what is the present of a gown when you are 
deficiently furnished with the et-ceteras of apparel, 
and when, moreover, there are six children w^hose 
wear and tear of clothes is something incredible to 
the non-maternal mind ? 

Indeed, the equation of income and expenditure 
was offering new and constantly accumulating diffi- 
culties to Mr and Mrs Barton ; for shortly after the 



AMOS BAETON. 



69 



birth of little Walter, Milly's aunt, who had lived 
with her ever since her marriage, had withdrawn 
herself, her furniture, and her yearly income, to the 
household of another niece ; prompted to that step, 
very probably, by a slight "tiff" with the Kev. 
Amos, which occurred while Milly was up-stairs, 
and proved one too many for the elderly lady's 
patience and magnanimity.- Mr Barton's temper 
was a little warm, but, on the other hand, elderly 
maiden ladies are known to be susceptible ; so we 
will not suppose that all the blame lay on his side — 
the less so, as he had every motive for humouring 
an inmate whose presence kept the wolf from the 
door. It was now nearly a year since Miss Jackson's 
departure, and, to a fine ear, the howl of the wolf 
was audibly approaching. 

It was a sad thing, too, that when the last snow 
had melted, when the purple and yellow crocuses 
were coming up in the garden, and the old church 
was already half pulled down, Milly had an illness 
which made her lips look pale, and rendered it ab- 
solutely necessary that she should not exert herself 
for some time. Mr Brand, the Shepperton doctor 
so obnoxious to Mr Pilgrim, ordered her to drink 
port -wine, and it was quite necessary to have a 
charwoman very often, to assist Nanny in all the 
extra work that fell upon her. 

Mrs Hackit, who hardly ever paid a visit to any 
one but her oldest and nearest neiglibour, Mrs Patten, 
now took the unusual step of calling at the vicarage 



70 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Olio iiioi iiiiii;- ; and Iho tears came into her unsenti- 
iiKMital eyes as she saw Milly seated pale and feeble 
in I he parlonr, unable to persevere in sewing tlie 
l)inar()r(^ tliat lay on the table beside her. Little 
Dielvey, a boisterous boy of five, with large pink 
cheeks and sturdy legs, was having his turn to sit 
with ]\lannna, and was squatting quiet as a mouse at 
her knee, holding her soft white hand between his 
little red black-nailed fists. He was a boy whom Mrs 
Haekit, in a severe mood, had pronounced "stocky" 
(a word that etymologically, in all probability, con- 
veys some allusion to an instrument of punishment 
for the refractory) ; but seeing him thus subdued 
into goodness, she smiled at him with her kindest 
smile, and, stooping down, suggested a kiss — a 
favour which Dickey resolutely declined. 

" Now do you take nourishing things enough ? " 
was one of Mrs Hackit's first questions, and Milly 
endeavoured to make it appear that no woman 
was ever so much in danger of being over-fed and 
led into self-indulgent habits as herself. But Mrs 
Hackit gathered one fact from her replies, namely, 
that Mr Brand had ordered port-wine. 

"Wliile this conversation was going forward, Dickey 
had been furtively stroking and kissing the soft 
white hand ; so that at last, when a pause came, 
his mother said, smilingly, "Why are you kissing 
my hand, Dickey?" 

"It id to yovely," answered Dickey, who, you ob- 
serve, was decidedly backward in his pronunciation. 



AMOS BARTON. 



71 



Mrs Hackit remembered this little scene in after 
days, and thought with peculiar tenderness and pity 
of the " stocky boy." 

The next day there came a hamper with Mrs 
Hackit's respects ; and on being opened it was 
found to contain half-a-dozen of port -wine and two 
couples of fowls. Mrs Farquhar, too, was very kind ; 
insisted on Mrs Barton's rejecting all arrowroot but 
hers, which was genuine Indian, and carried away 
Sophy and Fred to stay with her a fortnight. These 
and other good-natured attentions made the trouble 
of Milly's illness more bearable ; but they could not 
prevent it from swelling expenses, and Mr Barton 
began to have serious thoughts of representing his 
case to a certain charity for the relief of needy 
curates. 

Altogether, as matters stood in Shepperton, the 
parishioners were more likely to have a strong sense 
that the clergyman needed their material aid, than 
that they needed his spiritual aid, — not the best 
state of things in this age and country, where faith 
in men solely on the ground of their spiritual gifts 
has considerably diminished, and especially unfavour- 
able to the influence of the Kev. Amos, whose spiri- 
tual gifts would not have had a very commanding 
power even in an age of faith. 

But, you ask, did not the Countess Czerlaski pay 
any attention to her friends all this time? To be 
sure she did. She was indefatigable in visiting her 
" sweet Milly," and sitting with her for hours to- 



72 



SCENF.S OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



getlior. It may s(Mmii remarkable to you that she 
lu'itlicr tlioiio-lit of taking away any of the children, 
nor (if providing for any of Milly's probable wants; 
but ladies of rank and of bixurions habits, you know, 
cannot be expected to sunnise the details of poverty. 
She put a great deal of eau-de-Cologne on Mrs Bar- 
ton's pocket-handkerchief, rearranged her pillow and 
footstool, kissed her cheeks, wrapped her in a soft 
warm shawl from her own shoulders, and amused 
her with stories of the life she had seen abroad. 
When Mr Barton joined them she talked of Trac- 
tarianism, of her determination not to re-enter the 
vortex of fashionable life, and of her anxiety to see 
him in a sphere large enough for his talents. Milly 
thought her sprightliness and affectionate warmth 
quite charming, and was very fond of her ; while 
the Rev. Amos had a vague consciousness that he 
had risen into aristocratic life, and only associated 
with his middle-class parishioners in a pastoral and 
parenthetic manner. 

However, as the days brightened, Milly's cheeks 
and lips brightened too ; and in a few weeks she 
was almost as active as ever, though watchful eyes 
might have seen that activity was not easy to her. 
Mrs Hackit's eyes were of that kind, and one day, 
when Mr and Mrs Barton had been dining with her 
for the first time since Milly's illness, she observed 
to her husband — That poor thing's dreadful weak 
an' dilicate ; she won't stan' havin' many more child- 
ren." 



AMOS BARTON. 73 

Mr Barton, meanwhile, had been indefatigable in 
his vocation. He had preached two extemporary 
sermons every Sunday at the workhouse, where a 
room had been fitted up for divine service, pending 
the alterations in the church ; and had walked the 
same evening to a cottage at one or other extremity 
of his parish to deliver another sermon, still more 
extemporary, in an atmosphere impregnated with 
spring - flowers and perspiration. After all these 
labours you \vill easily conceive that he was con- 
siderably exhausted by half-past nine o'clock in the 
evening, and that a supper at a friendly parishion- 
er's, with a glass, or even two glasses, of brandy- 
and-water after it, was a welcome reinforcement. 
Mr Barton was not at all an ascetic ; he thought the 
benefits of fasting were entirely confined to the Old 
Testament dispensation ; he was fond of relaxing 
himself with a little gossip ; indeed, Miss Bond, 
and other ladies of enthusiastic views, sometimes 
regretted that Mr Barton did not more uninterrupt- 
edly exhibit a superiority to the things of the flesh. 
Thin ladies, who take little exercise, and whose 
livers are not strong enough to bear stimulants, 
are so extremely critical about one's personal habits ! 
And, after all, the Kev. Amos never came near the 
borders of a vice. His very faults were middling — 
he was not very ungrammatical. It was not in his 
nature to be superlative in anything ; unless, indeed, 
he was superlatively middling, the quintessential 
extract of mediocrity. If there was any one point 



71 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



on wliirli lie showed ;ui inclination to be excessive, 
it \v;is confldonee in his own shrewdness and ability 
in practiral matters, so that he was very full of plans 
which were something like his moves in chess — 
admirably w^ell calculated, supposing the state of 
the case were otherwise. For example, that notable 
plan of introducing anti-Dissenting books into liis 
Lending Library did not in the least appear to liave 
bruised the head of Dissent, though it had certainly 
made Dissent strongly inclined to bite the Rev. 
Amos's lieeh Again, he vexed the souls of his 
churchwardens and influential parishioners by his 
fertile suggestiveness as to what it would be well 
for them to do in the matter of the church repairs, 
and other ecclesiastical secularities. 

" I never saw the like to parsons," Mr Hackit said 
one day in conversation with his brother church- 
warden, Mr Bond ; " they're al'ys for meddling with 
business, an they know no more about it than my 
black filly." 

"Ah," said Mr Bond, "they're too high learnt to 
have much common-sense." 

" Well," remarked Mr Hackit, in a modest and 
dubious tone, as if throwing out a hypothesis which 
might be considered bold, " I should say that's a 
bad sort of eddication as makes folks unreasonable." 

So that, you perceive, Mr Barton's popularity was 
in that precarious condition, in that toppling and 
contingent state, in which a very slight push from 
a malignant destiny would utterly upset it. That 



AMOS BARTON. 



75 



push was not long in being given, as you shall 
hear. 

One fine May morning, when Amos was out on his 
parochial visits, and the sunlight was streaming 
through the bow-window of the sitting-room, where 
Milly was seated at her sewing, occasionally looking 
up to glance at the children playing in the garden, 
there came a loud rap at the door, which she at once 
recognised as the Countess's, and that well-dressed 
lady presently entered the sitting-room, with her 
veil drawn over her face. Milly was not at all sur- 
prised or sorry to see her ; but when the Countess 
threw up her veil, and showed that her eyes were 
red and swollen, she was both surprised and sorry. 

" What can be the matter, dear Caroline?" 

Caroline threw down Jet, who gave a little yelp ; 
then she threw her arms round Milly's neck, and 
began to sob ; then she threw herself on the sofa, 
and begged for a glass of water ; then she threw 
off her. bonnet and shawl ; and by the time Milly's 
imagination had exhausted itself in conjuring up 
calamities, she said — 

" Dear, how shall I tell you ? I am the most 
wretched woman. To be deceived by a brother to 
whom I have been so devoted — to see him degrad- 
ing himself — giving himself utterly to the dogs ! " 

"What can it be?" said Milly, who began to 
picture to herself the sober Mr Bridmain taking to 
brandy and betting. 

"He is going to be married — to marry my own 



70 



RCKXKS OF CLERTC.VL LIFE. 



maid, that dri-ril I'lil ■ Alice, to whom I have been 
tlic most iiuhil<;'ent mistress. Did you ever hear of 
anytliiiiii; so disgraceful? so mortifying? so disre- 
])utal)l(' V 

And has he only just told you of it? " said Milly, 
who, 1 laving really lieard of worse conduct, even in 
lier innocent life, avoided a direct answer. 

Told me of it ! he had not even the grace to do 
that. I went into the dining-room suddenly and 
found him kissing her — disgusting at his time of 
life, is it not? — and when I reproved her for allow- 
ing such liberties, she turned round saucily, and 
said she was engaged to be married to my brother, 
and she saw no shame in allowing him to kiss her. 
Edmund is a miserable coward, you know, and 
looked frightened ; but when she asked him to say 
whether it was not so, he tried to summon up 
courage and say yes. I left the room in disgust, 
and this morning I have been questioning Edmund, 
and find that he is bent on marrying this woman, 
and that he has been putting off telling me — be- 
cause he was ashamed of himself, I suppose. I 
couldn't possibly stay in the house after this, with 
my own maid turned mistress. And now, Milly, I 
am come to throw myself on your charity for a week 
or two. Will you take me in ? " 

^' That we will," said Milly, " if you will only put 
up with our poor rooms and way of living. It will 
be delightful to have you ! " 

It will soothe me to be with you and Mr Barton 



AMOS BARTON. 



77 



a little while. I feel quite unable to go among my 
other friends just at present. What those two 
wretched people will do I don't know — leave the 
neighbourhood at once, I hope. I entreated my 
brother to do so, before he disgraced himself." 

When Amos came home, he joined his cordial 
welcome and sympathy to Milly's. By-and-by the 
Countess's formidable boxes, which she had carefully 
packed before her indignation drove her away from 
Camp Villa, arrived at the vicarage, and were de- 
posited in the spare bedroom, and in two closets, 
not spare, which Milly emptied for their recep- 
tion. A week afterwards, the excellent apartments 
at Camp Villa, comprising dining and drawing 
rooms, three bedrooms and a dressing-room, were 
again to let, and Mr Bridmain's sudden departure, 
together with the Countess Czerlaski's installation 
as a visitor at Shepperton Vicarage, became a 
topic of general conversation in the neighbourhood. 
The keen-sighted virtue of Milby and Shepperton 
saw in all this a confirmation of its worst sus- 
picions, and pitied the Kev. Amos Barton's gulli- 
bility. 

But when week after week, and month after 
month, slipped by without witnessing the Coun- 
tess's departure — when summer and harvest had 
fled, and still left her behind them occupying the 
spare bedroom and the closets, and also a large 
proportion of Mrs Barton's time and attention, new 
surmises of a very evil kind were added to the old 



78 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



niiiionrs, ;ni(l 1k'i;-;ui to tiiko tlie form of settled con- 
victioiis ill the iiiiiuLs eveu of Mr Barton's most 
friendly i)arislnoners. 

And now, here is an opportunity for an accom- 
])lislicd writer to apostrophise calunmy, to quote 
A^irgil, and to show that he is acquainted with the 
most ingenious tilings which have been said on that 
subject in polite literature. 

But what is opportunity to the man who can't 
use it? An unfecundated egg, which the waves of 
time wash away into nonentity. So, as my memory 
is ill-furnished, and my note-book still worse, I am 
unable to show myself either erudite or eloquent 
apropos of the calumny whereof the Kev. Amos 
Barton was the victim. I can only ask my reader, 
— did you ever upset your ink-bottle, and watch, in 
helpless agony, the rapid spread of Stygian black- 
ness over your fair manuscript or fairer table-cover? 
With a like inky swiftness did gossip now blacken 
the reputation of the Kev. Amos Barton, causing the 
unfriendly to scorn and even the friendly to stand 
aloof, at a time when difficulties of another kind 
were fast thickening around him. 



79 



CHAPTEK YL 

One November morning, at least six months after 
the Countess Czerlaski had taken up her residence 
at the vicarage, Mrs Hackit heard that her neigh- 
bour Mrs Patten had an attack of her old complaint, 
vaguely called " the spasms." Accordingly, about 
eleven o'clock, she put on her velvet bonnet and 
cloth cloak, with a long boa and muff large enough 
to stow a prize baby in ; for Mrs Hackit regulated 
her costume by the calendar, and brought out her 
furs on the first of November, wdiatever might be 
the temperature. She was not a woman weakly to 
accommodate herself to shilly-shally proceedings. 
If the season didn't know what it ought to do, Mrs 
Hackit did. In her best days, it was always sharp 
weather at " Gunpowder Plot," and she didn't like 
new fashions. 

And this morning the weather was very rationally 
in accordance with her costume, for as she made her 
way through the fields to Cross Farm, the yellow 
leaves on the hedge-girt elms which showed bright 



80 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



and golden against the low-lianging purple clouds, 
were being scattered across the grassy path by the 
coldest of November winds. "Ah," Mrs Hackit 
thought to herself, I daresay we shall have a 
sliarp i)inch this winter, and if we do, I shouldn't 
wonder if it takes the old lady off. They say a 
green Yule makes a fat churchyard ; but so does a 
white Yule too, for tliat matter. When the stool's 
rotten enough, no matter who sits on it." 

However, on her arrival at Cross Farm, the pros- 
pect of Mrs Patten's decease was again thrown into 
the dim distance in her imagination, for Miss Janet 
Gibbs met her with the news that Mrs Patten was 
much better, and led her, without any preliminary 
announcement, to the old lady's bedroom. Janet 
had scarcely reached the end of her circumstantial 
narrative how the attack came on and what were her 
aunt's sensations — a narrative to which Mrs Patten, 
in her neatly-plaited nightcap, seemed to listen with 
a contemptuous resignation to her niece's historical 
inaccuracy, contenting herself with occasionally con- 
founding Janet by a shake of the head — when the 
clatter of a horse's hoofs on the yard pavement 
announced the arrival of Mr Pilgrim, whose large, 
top-booted person presently made its appearance 
up-stairs. He found Mrs Patten going on so well 
that there was no need to look solemn. He might 
glide from condolence into gossip without offence, 
and the temptation of having Mrs Hackit's ear was 
irresistible. 



AMOS BARTON. 



81 



" What a disgraceful business this is turning out of 
your parson's/' was the remark with which he made 
this agreeable transition, throwing himself back in 
the chair from which he had been leaning towards 
the patient. 

" Eh, dear me ! " said Mrs Hackit, " disgraceful 
enough. I stuck to Mr Barton as long as I could, 
for his wife's sake ; but I can't countenance such 
goings-on. It's hateful to see that woman coming 
with 'em to service of a Sunday, and if Mr Hackit 
wasn't churchwarden and I didn't think it wrong to 
forsake one's own parish, I should go to Knebley 
Church. There's a many parish'ners as do." 

" I used to think Barton was only a fool," ob- 
served Mr Pilgrim, in a tone which implied that he 
was conscious of having been weakly charitable. 

I thought he was imposed upon and led away 
by those people when they first came. But that's 
impossible now." 

" Oh, it's as plain as the nose in your face," said 
Mrs Hackit, unreflectingly, not perceiving the equi- 
voque in her comparison — " comin' to Milby, like a 
sparrow perchin' on a bough, as I may say, with her 
brother, as she called him ; and then all on a sudden 
the brother goes off with himself, and she throws 
herself on the Bartons. Though what could make 
her take up with a poor notomise of a parson, as 
hasn't got enough to keep wife and children, there's 
One above knows — / don't." 

" Mr Barton may have attractions we don't know 
VOL. I. F 



82 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



of," said i\Tr ]'ili;-riin, avIio piqued himself on a talent 
lor sarciisin. " The Countess lias no maid now, and 
they say Mr Barton is handy in assisting at her 
toilette — laces her boots, and so forth." 

Tilette, be fiddled ! " said Mrs Hackit, with indig- 
nant boldness of metaphor: "an' there's that poor 
thing a-scwiiig her fingers to the bone for them chil- 
dren — an' another comin' on. Wliat she must have 
to go through ! It goes to my heart to turn my back 
on her. But she's i' the wrong to let herself be put 
upon i' that manner." 

" Ah ! I was talking to Mrs Farquliar about that 
the other day. She said, ' I think Mrs Barton a 
v-e-r-y w-e-a-k w-o-m-a-n.' " (Mr Pilgrim gave this 
quotation with slow emphasis, as if he thought 
Mrs Farquliar had uttered a remarkable sentiment.) 

They find it impossible to invite her to their house 
while she has that equivocal person staying with her." 

" Well ! " remarked Miss Gibbs, " if I was a wife, 
nothing should induce me to bear what Mrs Barton 
does." 

" Yes, it's fine talking," said Mrs Patten, from her 
pillow ; old maids' husbands are al'ys well-managed. 
If you was a wife you'd be as foolish as your betters, 
belike." 

" All my wonder is," observed Mrs Hackit, " how 
the Bartons make both ends meet. You may depend 
on it, she^s got nothing to give 'em ; for I under- 
stand as he's been havin' money from some clergy 
charity. They said at fust as she stuffed Mr Barton 



AMOS BAKTON. 



83 



wi' notions about lier writing to the Chancellor an' 
her fine friends, to give him a living. Howiver, I 
don't know what's true an' wdiat's false. Mr Barton 
keeps away from our house now, for I gave him a 
bit o' my mind one day. Maybe he's ashamed of 
himself. He seems to me to look dreadful thin an' 
harassed of a Sunday." 

Oh, he must be aware he's getting into bad 
odour everywhere. The clergy are quite disgusted 
with his folly. They say Carpe would be glad to 
get Barton out of the curacy if he could ; but he 
can't do that without coming to Shepperton himself, 
as Barton's a licensed curate ; and he wouldn't like 
that, I suppose." 

At this moment Mrs Patten showed signs of un- 
easiness, which recalled Mr Pilgrim to professional 
attentions ; and Mrs Hackit, observing that it w^as 
Thursday, and she must see after the butter, said 
good-bye, promising to look in again soon, and bring 
her knitting. 

This Thursday, by the by, is the first in the month 
— the day on which the Clerical Meeting is held at 
Milby Vicarage ; and as the Kev. Amos Barton has 
reasons for not attending, he will very likely be a 
subject of conversation amongst liis clerical brethren. 
Suppose we go there, and hear whether Mr Pilgrim 
has reported their opinion correctly. 

There is not a numerous party to-day, for it is a 
season of sore throats and catarrhs ; so that the 
exegetical and theological discussions, which are 



84 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



tlio preliminary of dining, have not been quite so 
sj)irit(Ml as nsnal ; and although a question relative 
to tlie K})istle of Jude has not been quite cleared up, 
the striking of six by the church clock, and the 
simultaneous announcement of dinner, are sounds 
that no one feels to be importunate. 

Pleasant (when one is not in the least bilious) to 
enter a comfortable dining-room, where the closely- 
drawn red curtains glow with the double light of fire 
and candle, where glass and silver are glittering on 
the pure damask, and a soup-tureen gives a hint of 
the fragrance that will presently rush out to inun- 
date your hungry senses, and prepare them, by the 
delicate visitation of atoms, for the keen gusto of 
ampler contact ! Especially if you have confidence 
in the dinner-giving capacity of your host — if you 
know that he is not a man who entertains grovelling 
views of eating and drinking as a mere satisfaction 
of hunger and thirst, and, dead to all the finer influ- 
ences of the palate, expects his guest to be brilliant 
on ill -flavoured gravies and the cheapest Marsala. 
]\Ir Ely was particularly worthy of such confldence, 
and his virtues as an Amphitryon had probably con- 
tributed quite as much as the central situation of 
Milby to the selection of his house as a clerical ren- 
dezvous. He looks particularly graceful at the head 
of his table, and, indeed, on all occasions where he 
acts as president or moderator: he is a man who 
seems to listen well, and is an excellent amalgam of 
dissimilar ingredients. 



AMOS BARTON. 



85 



At the other end of the table, as " Vice," sits Mr 
Fellowes, rector and magistrate, a man of imposing 
appearance, with a menifluous voice and the readiest 
of tongues. Mr Fellowes once obtained a living by 
the persuasive charms of his conversation, and the 
fluency with which he interpreted the opinions of an 
obese and stammering baronet, so as to give that 
elderly gentleman a very pleasing perception of his 
own wisdom. Mr Fellowes is a very successful man, 
and has the highest character everywhere except in 
his own parish, where, doubtless because his parish- 
ioners happen to be quarrelsome people, he is always 
at fierce feud with a farmer or two, a colliery pro- 
prietor, a grocer who was once churchwarden, and a 
tailor who formerly officiated as clerk. 

At Mr Ely's right hand you see a very small man 
with a sallow and somewhat puffy face, whose hair 
is brushed straight up, evidently with the intention 
of giving him a height somewhat less disproportionate 
to his sense of his own importance than the measure 
of five feet three accorded him by an oversight of 
nature. This is the Kev. Archibald Duke, a very 
dyspeptic and evangelical man, who takes the gloom- 
iest view of mankind and their prospects, and thinks 
the immense sale of the ' Pickwick Papers,' recently 
completed, one of the strongest proofs of original 
sin. Unfortunately, though Mr Duke was not bin- 
dened with a family, his yearly expenditure was 
apt considerably to exceed his income ; and the un- 
pleasant circumstances resultinir from this, together 



80 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



w ith Ikmvv iiuMt - breakfasts, may probably have 
contributed to liis dcspoiuliiig views of the world 
<;('m'rally. 

Next to liim is seated Mr Furness, a tall young 
man, with blond hair and whiskers, wlio was plucked 
at Cambridge entirely owing to his genius ; at least 
I know that lie soon afterwards published a volume 
of })oems, which were considered remarkably beauti- 
ful by many young ladies of his acquaintance. Mr 
Furness preached his own sermons, as any one of 
tolerable critical acumen might have certified by 
comparing them with his poems : in both, there 
was an exuberance of metaphor and simile entirely 
original, and not in the least borrowed from any 
resemblance in the things compared. 

On Mr Furness' s left you see Mr Pugh, another 
young curate, of much less marked characteristics. 
He had not published any poems ; he had not even 
been plucked ; he had neat black whiskers and a pale 
complexion ; read prayers and a sermon twice every 
Sunday, and might be seen any day sallying forth 
on his parochial duties in a white tie, a well-brushed 
hat, a perfect suit of black, and well-polished boots 
— an equipment which he probably supposed hiero- 
glyphically to represent the spirit of Christianity to 
the parishioners of Whittlecombe. 

Mr Pugh's vis-cL-vis is the Kev. Martin Cleves, a 
man about forty — middle-sized, broad-shouldered, 
with a negligently -tied cravat, large irregular fea- 
tures, and a large head thickly covered with lanky 



AMOS BARTON. 



87 



brown hair. To a superficial glance, Mr Cleves is 
the plainest and least clerical-looking of the party ; 
yet, strange to say, there is the true parish priest, 
the pastor beloved, consulted, relied on by his flock ; 
a clergyman who is not associated with the under- 
taker, but thought of as the surest helper under a 
difficulty, as a monitor who is encouraging rather 
than severe, Mr Cleves has the wonderful art of 
preaching sermons which the wheelwright and the 
blacksmith can understand ; not because he talks con- 
descending twaddle, but because he can call a spade 
a spade, and knows how to disencumber ideas of 
their wordy frippery. Look at him more attentively, 
and you will see that his face is a very interesting 
one — that there is a great deal of humour and feel- 
ing playing in his grey eyes, and about the corners 
of his roughly-cut mouth : — a man, you observe, wdio 
has most likely sprung from the harder-working sec- 
tion of the middle class, and has hereditary sympath- 
ies with the checkered life of the people. He gets 
together the working men in his parish on a Monday 
evening, and gives them a sort of conversational 
lecture on useful practical matters, telling them 
stories, or reading some select passages from an 
agreeable book, and commenting on them ; and if 
you were to ask the first labourer or artisan in Trip- 
plegate what sort ol man the parson was, he would 
say, — "a uncommon knowin', sensible, free-spoken 
gentleman ; very kind an' good-natur'd too." Yet 
for all this, he is perhaps the best Grecian of tlie 



88 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



]taiiy, if wo except l\lr V)i\'m\, the young man on his 

Mr \);uvd lias since gained considerable celebrity 
as an original writer and metropolitan lecturer, but 
at that time lie used to preach in a little church 
son K'tl ling like a barn, to a congregation consisting 
of three rich farmers and their servants, about fifteen 
labourers, and the due proportion of women and chil- 
dren. The rich farmers understood him to be " very 
high learnt ; " but if you had interrogated them for a 
more precise description, they would have said that 
he was " a thinnisli-fliced man, with a sort o' cast in 
his eye, like." 

Seven, altogether : a delightful number for a din- 
ner-party, supposing the units to be delightful, but 
everything depends on that. During dinner Mr 
Fellowes took the lead in the conversation, which 
set strongly in the direction of mangold-wurzel and 
the rotation of crops ; for Mr Fellowes and Mr Cleves 
cultivated their own glebes. Mr Ely, too, had some 
agricultural notions, and even the Eev. Archibald 
Duke was made alive to that class of mundane sub- 
jects by the possession of some potato-ground. The 
two young curates talked a little aside during these 
discussions, which had imperfect interest for their 
unbeneficed minds ; and the transcendental and 
near-sighted Mr Baird seemed to listen somewhat 
abstractedly, knowing little more of potatoes and 
mangold-wurzel than that they were some form of 
the " Conditioned." 



AMOS BARTON. 



89 



What a liobby farming is with Lord Watling ! " 
said Mr Fellowes, when the cloth was being drawn. 
" I went over his farm at Tetterley with him last 
summer. It is really a model farm ; first - rate 
dairy, grazing and wheat land, and such splendid 
farm-buildings ! An expensive hobby, though. He 
sinks a good deal of money there, I fancy. He has 
a great whim for black cattle, and he sends that 
drunken old Scotch bailiff of his to Scotland every 
year, with hundreds in his pocket, to buy these 
beasts." 

" By the by," said Mr Ely, ''do you know who is 
the man to whom Lord Watling has given the Bram- 
hill livings?" 

" A man named Sargent. I knew him at Oxford. 
His brother is a lawyer, and was very useful to Lord 
Watling in that ugly Brounsell affair. That's why 
Sargent got the living." 

" Sargent," said Mr Ely. " I know him. Isn't 
he a showy, talkative fellow ; has written travels in 
Mesopotamia, or something of that sort ? " 

" That's the man." 

"He was at Witherington once, as Bagshawe's 
curate. He got into rather bad odour there, through 
some scandal about a flirtation, I think." 

"Talking of scandal," returned Mr Fellowes, "have 
you heard the last story about Barton ? Nisbett was 
telling me the other day that he dines alone with the 
Countess at six, while Mrs Barton is in the kitchen 
acting as cook." 



00 



SCKXKS OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



"J^illuT an apociypliiil authority, Nisbett/' said 
]\Ir VAy. 

"All," said Mr Cloves, witli good-natured humour 
twinkling in his eyes, "depend U})on it, that is a 
corrupt version. The original text is, tliat they all 
dined together laith six — meaning six children — and 
that Mrs Barton is an excellent cook." 

" I wish dining alone together may be the worst 
of that sad business," said the Eev. Archibald Duke, 
in a tone implying that liis wish was a strong figure 
of speech. 

''Well," said Mr Fellowes, filling his glass and 
looking jocose, " Barton is certainly either the great- 
est gull in existence, or he has some cunning secret, 
— some philtre or other to make himself charming 
in the eyes of a fair lady. It isn't all of us that can 
make conquests when our ugliness is past its bloom." 

'' The lady seemed to have made a conquest of 
him at the very outset," said Mr Ely. "I was im- 
mensely amused one night at Grariby's when he was 
telling us her story about her husband's adventures. 
He said, ' When she told me the tale, I felt I don't 
know how, — I felt it from the crown of my head to 
the sole of my feet.' " 

Mr Ely gave these words dramatically, imitating 
the Eev. Amos's fervour and symbolic action, and 
every one laughed except Mr Duke, whose after- 
dinner view of things was not apt to be jovial. He 
said — 

I think some of us ought to remonstrate with 



AMOS BARTON. 



91 



Mr Barton on the scandal he is causing. He is not 
only imperilling his own soul, but the souls of his 
flock." 

" Depend upon it," said Mr Cleves, " there is some 
simple explanation of the whole affair, if we only 
happened to know it. Barton has always impressed 
me as a right-minded man, who has the knack of 
doing himself injustice by his manner." 

^'Now / never liked Barton," said Mr Fellowes. 
"He's not a gentleman. Why, he used to be on 
terms of intimacy with that canting Prior, who died 
a little while ago ; — a fellow who soaked himself 
with spirits, and talked of the Gospel through an in- 
flamed nose." 

" The Countess has given him more refined tastes, 
I daresay," said Mr Ely. 

Well," observed Mr Cleves, 'Hhe poor fellow must 
have a hard pull to get along, with his small income 
and large family. Let us hope the Countess does 
something towards making the pot boil." 

" Not she," said Mr Duke ; " there are greater 
signs of poverty about them than ever." 

" Well, come," returned Mr Cleves, who could be 
caustic sometimes, and who was not at all fond of his 
reverend brother, Mr Duke, "that's something in 
Barton's favour at all events. He might be poor 
without showing signs of poverty." 

Mr Duke turned rather yellow, wliich was his 
way of blushing, and Mr Ely came to his relief by 
observing — 



1)2 



SCENES OF CLEPtlCAL LIFE. 



" 1']i(\v'r(' luakiii^L;- a vciy <^(H)d piece of work of 
Slu ppi'iioii C/liurch. Dolby, the architect, who has 
it ill hand, is a very clever fellow." 

" It's he who has been doing Coppleton Church," 
said Mr Furuess. "They've got it in excellent order 
for the visitation." 

This mention of the visitation suggested the Bishop, 
and tlius opened a wide duct, Avhich entirely diverted 
the stream of animadversion from that small pipe — 
that capillary vessel, the Eev. Amos Barton. 

The talk of the clergy about their Bishop belongs 
to the esoteric part of their profession ; so we will at 
once quit the dining-room at Milby Vicarage, lest we 
should happen to overhear remarks unsuited to the 
lay understanding, and perhaps dangerous to our 
repose of mind. 



93 



CHAPTER VIL 

I DARESAY the long residence of the Countess Czer- 
laski at Shepperton Vicarage is very puzzHng to you 
also, dear reader, as well as to Mr Barton's clerical 
brethren ; the more so, as I hope you are not in the 
least inclined to put that very evil interpretation on 
it which evidently found acceptance with the sallow 
and dyspeptic Mr Duke, and with the florid and higlily 
peptic Mr Fellowes. You have seen enough, I trust, 
of the Kev. Amos Barton, to be convinced that he 
was more apt to fall into a blunder than into a sin — 
more apt to be deceived than to incur a necessity for 
being deceitful : and if you have a keen eye for physi- 
ognomy, you will have detected that the Countess 
Czerlaski loved herself far too well to get entangled 
in an unprofitable vice. 

How, then, you will say, could this fine lady choose 
to quarter herself on the establishment of a poor 
curate, where the carpets were probably falling into 
holes, where the attendance was limited to a maid-of- 
all-work, and where six children were running loose 



94 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



iVoiii ('i<;lit (M'lofk in tlio morning till eiglit o'clock 
in till' ovoning? Snrcly you must be straining 
prol);il)ility. 

Jlciivi'ii forbid! For not having a lofty imagina- 
tion, as you perceive, and being unable to invent 
thrilling incidents for your amusement, my only 
merit must lie in the truth with which I represent 
to you the humble experience of ordinary fellow- 
mortals. I wish to stir your sympathy with com- 
monplace troubles — to win your tears for real 
sorrow : sorrow such as may live next door to you 
— such as walks neither in rags nor in velvet, but 
in very ordinary decent appareL 

Therefore, that you may dismiss your suspicions 
as to the truth of ray picture, I will beg you to con- 
sider, that at the time the Countess Czerlaski left 
Camp Tilla in dudgeon, she had only twenty pounds 
in her pocket, being about one-third of the income 
she possessed independently of her brother. You 
will then perceive that she was in the extremely 
inconvenient predicament of having quarrelled, not 
indeed with her bread and cheese, but certainly with 
her chicken and tart — a predicament all the more 
inconvenient to her, because the habit of idleness 
had quite unfitted her for earning those necessary 
superfluities, and because, with all her fascinations, 
she had not secured any enthusiastic friends whose 
houses were open to her, and who were dying to see 
her. Thus she had completely checkmated herself, 
unless she could resolve on one unpleasant move — 



AMOS BARTON. 



95 



namely, to humble herself to her brother, and re- 
cognise his wife. This seemed quite impossible 
to her as long as she entertained the hope that 
he would make the first advances ; and in this 
flattering hope she remained month after month at 
Shepperton Vicarage, gracefully overlooking the 
deficiencies of accommodation, and feeling that she 
was really behaving charmingly. "Who indeed," 
she thought to herself, " could do otherwise, with a 
lovely, gentle creature like Milly ? I shall really be 
sorry to leave the poor thing." 

So, though she lay in bed till ten, and came down 
to a separate breakfast at eleven, she kindly con- 
sented to dine as early as five, when a hot joint was 
prepared, which coldly furnished forth the children's 
table the next day ; she considerately prevented 
Milly from devoting herself too closely to the chil- 
dren, by insisting on reading, talking, and walking 
with her ; and she even began to embroider a cap 
for the next baby, which must certainly be a girl, 
and be named Caroline. 

After the first month or two of her residence at 
the Vicarage, the Kev. Amos Barton became aware 
— as, indeed, it was unavoidable that he should — of 
the strong disapprobation it drew upon him, and the 
change of feeling towards him which it was producing 
in his kindest parishioners. But, in the first place, 
he still believed in the Countess as a charming and 
influential woman, disposed to befriend him, and, in 
any case, he could hardly hint departure to a lady 



9G 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



L;ut'st \\])() luid bcoii kind to liini and liis, and 
who niiu,lit any day spontaneonsly annonnce the ter- 
mination of her visit ; in the second place, he was 
conscious of his own innocence, and felt some con- 
temptuous indignation towards people who were 
ready to imagine evil of him ; and, lastly, he had, as 
I have already intimated, a strong will of his own, so 
tliat a certain ol)stinacy and defiance mingled itself 
with his other feelings on the subject. 

The one unpleasant consequence which was not to 
be evaded or counteracted by any mere mental state, 
was the increasing drain on his slender purse for 
liousehold expenses, to meet which the remittance 
he had received from the clerical charity threatened 
to be quite inadequate. Slander may be defeated 
by equanimity ; but courageous thoughts will not pay 
your baker's bill, and fortitude is nowhere considered 
legal tender for beef. Month after month the finan- 
cial aspect of the Eev. Amos's affairs became more 
and more serious to him, and month after month, too, 
wore away more and more of that armour of indigna- 
tion and defiance with which he had at first defended 
himself from the harsh looks of faces that were once 
the friendliest. 

But quite the heaviest pressure of the trouble fell 
on Milly — on gentle, uncomplaining Milly — whose 
delicate body was becoming daily less fit for all the 
many things that had to be done between rising 
up and lying down. At first, she thought the 
Countess's visit would not last long, and she was 



AMOS BARTON. 



97 



quite glad to incur extra exertion for the sake of 
making her friend comfortable. I can hardly bear 
to think of all the rough work she did with those 
lovely hands — all by the sly, without letting her 
husband know anything about it, and husbands are 
not clairvoyant : how she salted bacon, ironed shirts 
and cravats, put patches on patches, and re-darned 
darns. Then there was the task of mending and 
eking out baby-linen in prospect, and the problem 
perpetually suggesting itself how she and Nanny 
should manage when there was another baby, as 
there would be before very many months were past. 

When time glided on, and the Countess's visit did 
not end, Milly was not blind to any phase of their 
position. She knew of the slander ; she was aware 
of the keeping aloof of old friends *, but these she 
felt almost entirely on her husband's account. A 
loving woman's world lies within the four walls of 
her own home ; and it is only through her husband 
that she is in any electric communication with the 
world beyond. Mrs Simpkins may have looked 
scornfully at her, but baby crows and holds out 
his little arms none the less blithely ; Mrs Tomkins 
may have left off calling on her, but her husband 
comes home none the less to receive her care and 
caresses ; it has been wet and gloomy out of doors 
to-day, but she has looked well after the shirt 
buttons, has cut out baby's pinafores, and half 
finished Willy's blouse. 

So it was with Milly. She was only vexed that 
VOL. I. G 



98 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



licr lms])aii(l should be vexed — only wounded be- 
causci ho was misconceived. But the difficulty 
about ways and means she felt in quite a different 
inannor. Her rectitude was alarmed lest they 
should have to make tradesmen wait for their 
money ; her motherly love dreaded the diminution 
of comforts for the children ; and the sense of her 
own failing health gave exaggerated force to these 
fears. 

Milly could no longer shut her eyes to tlie fact, 
that the Countess was inconsiderate, if sbe did not 
allow herself to entertain severer thoughts ; and 
she began to feel that it would soon be a duty to 
tell her frankly that they really could not afford to 
have her visit farther prolonged. But a process 
was going forward in two other minds, which 
ultimately saved Milly from having to perform this 
painful task. 

In the first place, the Countess was getting weary 
of Shepperton — weary of waiting for her brother's 
overtures which never came ; so, one fine morning, 
she reflected that forgiveness was a Christian duty, 
that a sister should be placable, that Mr Bridmain 
must feel the need of her advice, to which he had 
been accustomed for three years, and that very 
likely 'Hhat woman" didn't make the poor man 
happy. In this amiable frame of mind she wi^ote 
a very affectionate appeal, and addressed it to Mr 
Bridmain, through his banker. 

Another mind that was being wrought up to a 



AMOS BARTON. 



99 



climax was Nanny's, the maid-of-all-work, who had 
a warm heart and a still warmer temper. Nanny 
adored her mistress : she had been heard to say, 
that she was " ready to kiss the ground as the 
missis trod on;" and Walter, she considered, was 
her baby, of whom she was as jealous as a lover. 
But she had, from the first, very slight admiration 
for the Countess Czerlaski. That lady, from Nanny's 
point of view, was a personage always drawed out 
i' fine clothes," the chief result of whose existence 
was to cause additional bed-making, carrying of hot 
water, laying of table-cloths, and cooking of dinners. 
It was a perpetually heightening ^'aggravation" to 
Nanny that she and her mistress had to slave " 
more than ever, because there was this fine lady in 
the house. 

''An' she pays nothin' for't neither," observed 
Nanny to Mr Jacob Tomms, a young gentleman 
in the tailoring line, who occasionally — simply out 
of a taste for dialogue — looked into the vicarage 
kitchen of an evening. " I know the master's 
shorter o' money than iver, an' it meks no end 
o' difference i' th' housekeepin' — her bein' here, 
besides bein' obliged to have a charwoman con- 
stant." 

" There's fine stories i' the village about her," 
said Mr Tomms. " Tliey say as Muster Barton's 
great wi' her, or else she'd niver stop here." 

" Then they say a passill o' lies, an' you ought 
to be ashamed to go an' tell 'em o'er again. Do 



100 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



you til ink as the master, as has got a wife liko tho 
missis, 'u(l go rimning arter a etuck-up piece o' 
goods liko that Countess, as isn't fit to black the 
missis's shoes? I'm none so fond o' the master, 
but I know better on him nor that." 

"Well, I didn't b'lieve it," said Mr Tomms, 
liunibly. 

''B'lieve it? you'd ha' been a ninny if yer did. 
An' she's a nasty, stingy thing, that Countess. 
She's niver giv me a sixpence nor an old rag 
neither, sin' here she's been. A-lyin' a bed an' 
a-comin' down to breakfast when other folks wants 
their dinner ! " 

If such was the state of Nanny's mind as early 
as the end of August, when this dialogue with Mr 
Tomms occurred, you may imagine what it must 
have been by the beginning of November, and that 
at that time a very slight spark might any day 
cause the long-smouldering anger to flame forth in 
open indignation. 

That spark happened to fall the very morning 
that Mrs Hackit paid the visit to Mrs Patten, 
recorded in the last chapter. Nanny's dislike of 
the Countess extended to the innocent dog Jet, 
whom she " couldn't a-bear to see made a fuss wi' 
like a Christian. An' the little ouzel must be 
washed, too, ivery Saturday, as if there wasn't 
children enoo to wash, wi'out washin' dogs." 

Now this particular morning it happened that 
Milly was quite too poorly to get up, and Mr Barton 



AMOS BARTON. 



101 



observed to Nanny, on going out, that he would 
call and tell Mr Brand to come. These circum- 
stances were already enough to make Nanny anxious 
and susceptible. But the Countess, comfortably 
ignorant of them, came down as usual about eleven 
o'clock to her separate breakfast, which stood ready 
for her at that hour in the parlour ; the kettle sing- 
ing on the hob that she might make her own tea. 
There was a little jug of cream, taken according to 
custom from last night's milk, and specially saved 
for the Countess's breakfast. Jet always awaited 
his mistress at her bedroom door, and it was her 
habit to carry him down-stairs. 

Now, my little Jet," she said, putting him down 
gently on the hearth-rug, "you shall have a nice, 
nice breakfast." 

Jet indicated that he thought that observation 
extremely pertinent and well-timed, by immediately 
raising himself on his hind-legs, and the Countess 
emptied the cream-jug into the saucer. Now there 
was usually a small jug of milk standing on the 
tray by the side of the cream, and destined for 
Jet's breakfast, but this morning Nanny, being 
" moithered," had forgotten that part of the arrange- 
ments, so that when the Countess had made her tea, 
she perceived there was no second jug, and rang 
the bell. Nanny appeared, looking very red and 
heated — the fact was, she had been "doing up" 
the kitchen fire, and that is a sort of work which 
by no means conduces to blandness of temper. 



102 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Nanny, you have forgotten Jet's milk ; will yon 
hriiiu,- 1110 soiiio more cream, please?" 

'J'his was just a little too much for Nanny's for- 
bearance. 

" Yes, I dare say. Here am I wi' my hands full 
o' the children an' the dinner, and missis ill a-bed, 
and Mr Brand a-comin'; and I must run o'er the 
village to get more cream, 'cause you've give it to 
that nasty little blackamoor." 

"Is Mrs Barton ill?" 

" 111 — yes — I should think she is ill, and much 
you care. She's likely to be ill, moithered as she is 
from mornin' to night, wi' folks as had better be 
elsewhere." 

" What do you mean by behaving in this way ? " 

" Mean ? Why I mean as the missis is a-slavin' 
her life out an' a-sittin' up o' nights, for folks as are 
better able to wait of her, i'stid o' lyin' a-bed an' 
doin' nothin' all the blessed day, but mek work." 

" Leave the room and don't be insolent." 

" Insolent ! I'd better be insolent than like what 
some folks is, — a-livin' on other folks, an' bringin' a 
bad name on 'em into the bargain." 

Here Nanny flung out of the room, leaving the 
lady to digest this unexpected breakfast at her 
leisure. 

The Countess was stunned for a few minutes, but 
when she began to recall Nanny's words, there was 
no possibility of avoiding very unpleasant conclu- 
sions from them, or of failing to see her position 



AMOS BARTOK 



103 



at tiie Vicarage in an entirely new light. The 
interpretation too of Nanny's allusion to a " bad 
name " did not lie out of the reach of the Countess's 
imagination, and she saw the necessity of quitting 
Shepperton without delay. Still, she would like 
to wait for her brother's letter — no — she would ask 
Milly to forward it to her — still better, she would go 
at once to London, inquire her brother's address at 
his banker's, and go to see him without preliminary. 

She went up to Milly's room, and, after kisses 
and inquiries, said — " I find, on consideration, dear 
Milly, from the letter I had yesterday, that I must 
bid you good-bye and go up to London at once. 
But you must not let me leave you ill, you naughty 
thing." 

Oh no," said Milly, who felt as if a load had 
been taken off her back, " I shall be very well in 
an hour or two. Indeed, I'm much better now. 
You will want me to help you to pack. But you 
won't go for two or three days?" 

" Yes, I must go to-morrow. But I shall not let 
you help me to pack, so don't entertain any un- 
reasonable projects, but lie still. Mr Brand is 
coming, Nanny says." 

The news was not an unpleasant surprise to Mr 
Barton when he came home, though he was able to 
express more regret at the idea of parting than 
Milly could summon to her lips. He retained more 
of his original feeling for the Countess than Milly 
did, for women never betray themselves to men as 



101 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



llicy do to each other; and the Kev. Amos had not 
a keen instinct for cliaracter. But ho felt that he 
was being relieved from a difficulty, and in the way 
tliat ^vas easiest for liim. Neither he nor Milly 
j>nspected that it was Nanny who had cut the knot 
for them, for the Countess took care to give no sign 
on tliat subject. As for Nanny, she was perfectly 
aware of the relation between cause and effect in 
the affair, and secretly chuckled over her outburst 
of " sauce " as the best morning's work she had ever 
done. 

80, on Friday morning, a fly was seen standing at 
the Vicarage gate with the Countess's boxes packed 
upon it ; and presently that lady herself was seen 
getting into the vehicle. After a last shake of the 
hand to Mr Barton, and last kisses to Milly and the 
children, the door was closed ; and as the fly rolled 
off, the little party at the Vicarage gate caught a 
last glimpse of the handsome Countess leaning and 
waving kisses from the carriage window. Jet's 
little black phiz was also seen, and doubtless he 
had his thoughts and feelings on the occasion, but 
he kept them strictly within his own bosom. 

The schoolmistress opposite witnessed this depar- 
ture, and lost no time in telling it to the school- 
master, who again communicated the news to the 
landlord of " The Jolly Colliers," at the close of the 
morning school -hours. Nanny poured the joyful 
tidings into the ear of Mr Farquhar's footman, who 
happened to call with a letter, and Mr Brand carried 



AMOS BARTON". 



105 



them to all the patients he visited that morning, 
after calling on Mrs Barton. So that, before Sunday, 
it was very generally known in Shepperton parish 
that the Countess Czerlaski had left the Vicarage. 

The Countess had left, but alas, the bills she 
had contributed to swell still remained ; so did the 
exiguity of the children's clothing, which also was 
partly an indirect consequence of her presence ; and 
so, too, did the coolness and alienation in the parish- 
ioners, which could not at once vanish before the 
fact of her departure. The Rev. Amos was not ex- 
culpated — the past was not expunged. But what 
was worse than all, Milly's health gave frequent 
cause for alarm, and the prospect of baby's birth 
was overshadowed by more than the usual fears. 
The birth came prematurely, about six weeks after 
the Countess's departure, but Mr Brand gave favour- 
able reports to all inquirers on the following day, 
which was Saturday. On Sunday, after morning 
service, Mrs Hackit called at the Vicarage to in- 
quire how Mrs Barton was, and was invited up- 
stairs to see her. Milly lay placid and lovely in 
her feebleness, and held out her hand to Mrs Hackit 
with a beaming smile. It was very pleasant to her 
to see her old friend unreserved and cordial once 
more. The seven months' baby was very tiny and 
very red, but " handsome is that handsome does " 
— he was pronounced to be doing well," and Mrs 
Hackit went home gladdened at heart to think that 
the perilous hour was over. 



106 



CHAPTEK VIII. 

The following Wednesday, when Mr and Mrs Hackit 
were seated comfortably by their bright hearth, en- 
joying the long afternoon afforded by an early dinner, 
Rachel, the housemaid, came in and said — 

"If you please 'm, the shepherd says, have you 
heard as Mrs Barton's wuss, and not expected to 
live?" 

Mrs Hackit turned pale, and hurried out to 
question the shepherd, who, she found, had heard 
the sad news at an alehouse in the village. Mr 
Hackit followed her out and said, "You'd better 
have the pony-chaise, and go directly." 

"Yes," said Mrs Hackit, too much overcome to 
utter any exclamations. "Rachel, come an' help 
me on wi' my things." When her husband was 
wrapping her cloak round her feet in the pony- 
chaise, she said — 

" If I don't come home to-night, I shall send back 
the pony-chaise, and you'll know I'm wanted there." 

" Yes, yes." 



AMOS BARTON. 



107 



It was a bright frosty day, and by tlie time Mrs 
Hackit arrived at the Vicarage, the sun was near its 
setting. There was a carriage and pair standing at 
the gate, which she recognised as Dr Madeley's, the 
physician from Kotherby. She entered at the kitchen 
door that she might avoid knocking, and quietly 
questioned Nanny. No one w^as in the kitchen, but, 
passing on, she saw the sitting - room door open, 
and Nanny, with Walter in her arms, removing the 
knives and forks, which had been laid for dinner 
three hours ago. 

Master says he can't eat no dinner," was Nanny's 
first word. " He's never tasted nothin' sin' yesterday 
mornin', but a cup o' tea." 

"Wlien was your missis took worse?" 
0' Monday night. They sent for Dr Madeley i' 
the middle o' the day yisterday, an' he's here again 
now." 

"Is the baby alive?" 

" No, it died last night. The children's all at Mrs 
Bond's. She come and took 'em away last night, but 
the master says they must be fetched soon. He's up- 
stairs now, wi' Dr Madeley and Mr Brand." 

At this moment Mrs Hackit heard the sound of a 
heavy, slow foot, in the passage ; and presently Amos 
Barton entered, with dry despairing eyes, haggard 
and unshaven. He expected to find the sitting-room 
as he left it, with nothing to meet his eyes but Milly's 
work-basket in the corner of the sofa, and the chil- 
dren's toys overturned in the bow-window. But 



RCKNKS OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Nvlicu lu' saw j\Ii-s Ihu'kit vomo towards liim with 
aiiswcriiiL;- sorrow in licr face, tliu pent-up fountain 
of tears was opened; lie threw himself on the sofa, 
liid liis liiei', and sobbed aloud. 

" ]]ear u}), Mr i3arton," Mrs Hackit ventured to 
say at last ; " bear up, for the sake o' them dear 
eliildren." 

'* Tlie children," said Amos, starting up. " They 
must l)e sent for. Some one must fetch them. Milly 
will want to . . . ." 

He couldn't finish the sentence, but Mrs Hackit 
understood him, and said, " I'll send the man with 
the pony-carriage for 'em." 

She went out to give the order, and encountered 
Dr Madeley and Mr Brand, who were just going. 

Mr Brand said : " I am very glad to see you are 
here, Mrs Hackit. No time must be lost in sending 
for the children. Mrs Barton wants to see them." 

" Do you quite give her up, then ? " 
She can hardly live through the night. She 
l^egged us to tell her how long she had to live ; 
and then asked for the children." 

The pony-carriage was sent ; and Mrs Hackit, re- 
turning to Mr Barton, said she should like to go up- 
stairs now. He went up-stairs with her and opened 
the door. The chamber fronted the west ; the sun 
was just setting, and the red light fell full upon the 
bed, where Milly lay with the hand of death visibly 
upon her. The feather-bed had been removed, and 
she lay low on a mattress, with her head slightly 



AMOS BAETOK 



109 



raised by pillows. Her long fair neck seemed to be 
struggling with a painful effort ; her features were 
pallid and pinched, and her eyes were closed. There 
was no one in the room but the nurse, and the mis- 
tress of the free school, who had come to give her 
help from the beginning of the change. 

Amos and Mrs Hackit stood beside the bed, and 
Milly opened her eyes. 

" My darling, Mrs Hackit is come to see you." 

Milly smiled and looked at her with that strange, 
far-off look which belongs to ebbing life. 

" Are the children coming ? " she said, painfully. 
Yes, they will be here directly." 

She closed her eyes again. 

Presently the pony-carriage was heard ; and Amos, 
motioning to Mrs Hackit to follow him, left the room. 
On their way down -stairs, she suggested that the 
carriage should remain to take them away again 
afterwards, and Amos assented. 

There they stood in the melancholy sitting-room 
— the five sweet children, from Patty to Chubby 
— all, with tlieir mother's eyes — all, except Patty, 
looking up with a vague fear at their father as he 
entered. Patty understood the great sorrow that 
was come upon them, and tried to check her sobs 
as she heard her papa's footsteps. 

" My children," said Amos, taking Chubby in his 
arms, "God is going to take away your dear mamma 
from us. She wants to see you to say good-bye. 
You must try to be very good and not cry." 



no 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



lie could say no inoro, but turned round to see if 
Nanny was there with Walter, and tlien led the way 
u}vst;virs, leading Dickey with the other hand. Mrs 
Hack it followed with Sophy and Patty, and then 
came Nanny with Walter and Fred. 

It seemed as if Milly had lieard the little footsteps 
on tlie stairs, for when Amos entered her eyes were 
wide open, eagerly looking towards the door. They 
all stood by the bedside — Amos nearest to her, hold- 
ing Chubby and Dickey. But she motioned for 
Patty to come first, and clasping the poor pale child 
by the hand, said — 

" Patty, I'm going away from you. Love your 
papa. Comfort him ; and take care of your little 
brothers and sisters. God will help you." 

Patty stood perfectly quiet, and said, " Yes, 
mamma." 

The mother motioned with her pallid lips for the 
dear child to lean towards her and kiss her ; and 
then Patty's great anguish overcame her, and she 
burst into sobs. Amos drew her towards him and 
pressed her head gently to him, while Milly beckoned 
Fred and Sophy, and said to them more faintly — 

" Patty will try to be your mamma when I am gone, 
my darlings. You will be good and not vex her." 

They leaned towards her, and she stroked their 
fair heads, and kissed their tear-stained cheeks. 
They cried because mamma was ill and papa looked 
so unhappy ; but they thought, perhaps next week 
things would bo as they used to be again. 



AMOS BARTON. 



Ill 



The little ones were lifted on the bed to kiss her. 
Little Walter said, " Mamma, mamma," and stretched 
out his fat arms and smiled ; and Chubby seemed 
gravely wondering ; but Dickey, who had been 
looking fixedly at her, with lip hanging down, ever 
since he came intQ the room, now seemed suddenly 
pierced with the idea that mamma was going aAvay 
somewhere ; his little heart swelled, and he cried 
aloud. 

Then Mrs Hackit and Nanny took them all away. 
Patty at first begged to stay at home and not go to 
Mrs Bond's again ; but when Nanny reminded her 
that she had better go to take care of the younger 
ones, she submitted at once, and they were all 
packed in the pony-carriage once more. 

Milly kept her eyes shut for some time after the 
children were gone. Amos had sunk on his knees, 
and was holding her hand while he watched her face. 
By-and-by she opened her eyes, and drawing him 
close to her, whispered slowly — 

" My dear — dear — husband — you have been — very 
— good to me. You — have — made me — very — 
happy." 

She spoke no more for many hours. Tliey watclied 
her breathing becoming more and more difficult, 
until evening deepened into night, and until mid- 
night was past. About half-past twelve she seemed 
to be trying to speak,« and tliey leaned to catch her 
words. 

" Music — music — didn't you hear it ? " 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Amos knelt by the bed and held her hand in his. 
lie (lid not believe in his sorrow. It was a bad 
(lira 111. He did not know when she was gone. 
But Mr lhand, whom Mrs Hackit had sent for before 
twelve o'clock, thinking that Mr Barton might pro- 
bably need his help, now came up to him, and 
said — 

" She feels no more pain now. Come, my dear 
sir, come with me." 

"She isn't deadV^ shrieked the poor desolate 
man, struggling to shake off Mr Brand, who had 
taken him by the arm. But his weary weakened 
frame was not equal to resistance, and he was 
dragged out of the room. 



113 



CHAP TEE IX. 

They laid her in the grave — the sweet mother with 
her baby in her arms — while the Christmas snow 
lay thick npon the graves. It was Mr Cleves who 
buried her. On the first news of Mr Barton's 
calamity, he had ridden over from Tripplegate to 
beg that he might be made of some use, and his 
silent grasp of Amos's hand had penetrated like the 
painful thrill of life-recovering warmth to the poor 
benumbed heart of the stricken man. 

The snow lay thick upon the graves, and the day 
was cold and dreary ; but there was many a sad eye 
watching that black procession as it passed from the 
vicarage to the church, and from the church to the 
open grave. There were men and women standing 
in that churchyard who had bandied vulgar jests 
about their pastor, and who had lightly charged him 
with sin ; but now, when they saw him following 
the coffin, pale and haggard, he was consecrated 
anew by his great sorrow, and they looked at him 
with respectful pity. 

VOL. I. H 



lit 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



All (>liildron were there, for Amos had willed 
it so, lliiiikiiio; that some dim memory of that sacred 
momcMit might remain even with little Walter, and 
link itself with what he would hear of his sweet 
mother in after years. He himself led Patty and 
IJickey ; then came Sophy and Fred ; Mr Brand had 
begged to carry Chubby, and Nanny followed witli 
Walter. They made a circle round the grave while 
the coffin was being lowered. Patty alone of all 
tlie cliildren felt tliat mamma was in that cofiBn, 
and that a new and sadder life had begun for papa 
and herself. She was pale and trembling, but she 
clasped his hand more firmly as the coffin went 
down, and gave no sob. Fred and Sophy, though 
they were only two and three years younger, and 
though they had seen mamma in lier coffin, seemed 
to themselves to be looking at some strange show. 
They had not learned to decipher that terrible hand- 
writing of human destiny, illness and death. Dickey 
had rebelled against his black clothes, until he was 
told that it would be naughty to mamma not to 
put them on, when he at once submitted ; and now, 
though he had heard Nanny say that mamma was in 
heaven, he had a vague notion that she would come 
home again to-morrow, and say he had been a good 
boy and let him empty her work-box. He stood 
close to his father, with great rosy cheeks, and 
wide open blue eyes, looking first up at Mr Cleves 
and then down at the coffin, and thinking he and 
Chubby would play at that when they got home. 



AMOS BARTON. 



115 



The burial was over, and Amos turned with his 
children to re-enter the house — the house where, an 
hour ago, Milly's dear body lay, where the windows 
were half- darkened, and sorrow seemed to have a 
hallowed precinct for itself, shut out from the world. 
But now she was gone ; the broad snow -reflected 
daylight was in all the rooms ; the Vicarage again 
seemed part of the common working-day world, and 
Amos, for the first time, felt that he was alone — 
that day after day, month after month, year after 
year, would have to be lived through without Milly's 
love. Spring would come, and she would not be 
there ; summer, and she would not be there ; and 
he would never have her again with him by the 
fireside in the long evenings. The seasons all 
seemed irksome to his thoughts ; and how dreary 
the sunshiny days that would be sure to come ! 
She was gone from him ; and he could never show 
her his love any more, never make up for omissions 
in the past by filling future days with tenderness. 

Oh the anguish of that thought that we can never 
atone to our dead for the stinted affection we gave 
them, for the light answers we returned to their 
plaints or their pleadings, for the little reverence 
we showed to that sacred human soul that lived so 
close to us, and was the divinest thing God had 
given us to know ! 

Amos Barton had been an affectionate husband, 
and while Milly was with him, he was never visited 
by the thought that perhaps his sympathy with her 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



was not (init'k and watchful onouoh 5 |mt now he 
re-livrd all their life too;etlier, with that terrible 
keenness of memory and imagination which bereave- 
iiuMit gives, and he felt as if his A'ery love needed a 
pardon for its poverty and selfishness. 

No outward solace coidd counteract the bitterness 
of tliis inward woe. But outward solace came. Cold 
faces looked kind again, and parishioners turned 
over in their minds what they could best do to help 
their pastor. Mr Oldinport wrote to express his 
sympathy, and enclosed another twenty-pound note, 
begging that he might be permitted to contribute 
in this way to the relief of Mr Barton's mind from 
pecuniary anxieties, under the pressure of a grief 
which all his parishioners must share ; and offering 
his interest towards placing the two eldest girls in a 
school expressly founded for clergymen's daughters. 
Mr Cleves succeeded in collecting thirty pounds 
among his richer clerical brethren, and, adding ten 
pounds himself, sent the sum to Amos, with the 
kindest and most delicate words of Christian fellow- 
ship and manly friendship. Miss Jackson forgot old 
grievances, and came to stay some months with 
Milly's children, bringing such material aid as she 
conld spare from her small income. These were sub- 
stantial helps, which relieved Amos from the pressure 
of his money difficulties ; and the friendly attentions, 
the kind pressure of the hand, the cordial looks he 
met with everywhere in his parish, made him feel 
tliat the fatal frost which had settled on his pastoral 



AMOS BARTON. 



117 



duties, during the Countess's residence at the Vicar- 
age, was completely thawed, and that the hearts of 
his parishioners were once more open to him. 

No one breathed the Countess's name now ; for 
Milly's memory hallowed her husband, as of old the 
place was hallowed on which an angel from God had 
alighted. 

When the spring came, Mrs Hackit begged that 
she might have Dickey to stay with her, and great 
was the enlargement of Dickey's experience from 
that visit. Every morning he was allowed — being 
well wrapt up as to his chest by Mrs Hackit's own 
hands, but very bare and red as to his legs — to run 
loose in the cow and poultry yard, to persecute the 
turkey-cock by satirical imitations of his gobble- 
gobble, and to put difficult questions to the groom 
as to the reasons why horses had four legs, and 
other transcendental matters. Then Mr Hackit 
would take Dickey up on horseback when he rode 
round his farm, and Mrs Hackit had a large plum- 
cake in cut, ready to meet incidental attacks of 
hunger. So that Dickey had considerably modified 
his views as to the desirability of Mrs Hackit's 
kisses. 

The Misses Farquliar made particular pets of Fred 
and Sophy, to whom they undertook to give lessons 
twice a-week in writing and geography ; and Mrs 
Farquhar devised many treats for the little ones. 
Patty's treat was to stay at home, or walk about 
with her papa ; and when he sat by the fire in an 



lis 



SCENES OF CT.KKTCAL LIFE. 



eveiiiiiu*, al'tcM- llio other cliildren were gone to bed, 
she woiiltl hrinij; ;i stool, and, placing it against his 
foot, Mould sit down in)on it and lean her head 
against his knoo. Then his hand would rest on 
that fair head, and he would feel that Milly's love 
was not quite gone out of his life. 

So the time wore on till it was May again, and the 
church was quite finished and reopened in all its 
new splendour, and Mr Barton was devoting himself 
with more vigour than ever to his parochial duties. 
]3ut one morning — it was a very bright morning, 
and evil tidings sometimes like to fly in the finest 
weather — there came a letter for Mr Barton, ad- 
dressed in the Yicar's handwriting. Amos opened 
it with some anxiety — somehow or other he liad 
a presentiment of evil. The letter contained the 
announcement that Mr Carpe had resolved on 
coming to reside at Sliepperton, and that, conse- 
quently, in six months from that time Mr Barton's 
duties as curate in that parish would be closed. 

Oh, it was hard ! Just when Sliepperton had 
become the place where he most wished to stay — 
where he had friends who knew his sorrows — where 
he lived close to Milly's grave. To part from that 
grave seemed like parting with Milly a second time ; 
for Amos was one who clung to all the material 
links between his mind and the past. His imagina- 
tion was not vivid, and required the stimulus of 
actual perception. 

It roused some bitter feeling, too, to think that 



AMOS BARTON. 



119 



Mr Carpe's wish to reside at Shepperton was merely 
a pretext for removing Mr Barton, in order that he 
might ultimately give the curacy of Shepperton to 
his own brother-in-law, who was known to be want- 
ing a new j)osition. 

Still, it must be borne ; and the painful business 
of seeking another curacy must be set about without 
loss of time. After the lapse of some months, Amos 
was obliged to renounce the hope of getting one 
at all near Shepperton, and he at length resigned 
himself to accepting one in a distant county. The 
parish was in a large manufacturing town, where 
his walks would lie among noisy streets and dingy 
alleys, and where the children would have no garden 
to play in, no pleasant firm-houses to visit. 

It was another blow inflicted on the bruised man. 



120 



CHAPTER X. 

At length the dreaded week was come, when Amos 
and his children must leave Shepperton. There 
was general regret among the parishioners at his 
departure : not that any one of them thought his 
spiritual gifts pre - eminent, or was conscious of 
great edification from his ministry. But his re- 
cent troubles had called out their better sympa- 
thies, and that is always a source of love. Amos 
failed to touch the spring of goodness by his ser- 
mons, but he touched it effectually by his sorrows ; 
and there was now a real bond between him and 
his flock. 

" My heart aches for them poor motherless chil- 
dren," said Mrs Hackit to her husband, "a-going 
among strangers, and into a nasty town, where 
there's no good victuals to be had, and you must 
pay dear to get bad nns." 

Mrs Hackit had a vague notion of a town life as 
a combination of dirty backyards, measly pork, and 
dingy linen. 



AMOS BAETON. 



121 



The same sort of sympathy was strong among the 
poorer class of parishioners. Old stiff- jointed Mr 
Tozer, who was still able to earn a little by garden- 
ing "jobs," stopped Mrs Cramp, the charwoman, on 
her way home from the Vicarage, where she had 
been helping Nanny to pack up the day before the 
departure, and inquired very particularly into Mr 
Barton's prospects. 

" Ah, poor mon," he was heard to say, " I'm sorry 
for un. He hedn't much here, but he'll be wuss off 
theer. Half a loafs better nor ne'er un." 

The sad good-byes had all been said before that 
last evening ; and after all the packing was done 
and all the arrangements were made, Amos felt the 
oppression of that blank interval in which one has 
nothing left to think of but the dreary future — the 
separation from the loved and familiar, and the 
chilling entrance on the new and strange. In every 
parting there is an image of death. 

Soon after ten o'clock, when he had sent Nanny 
to bed, that she might have a good night's rest 
before the fatigues of the morrow, he stole softly 
out to pay a last visit to Milly's grave. It was a 
moonless night, but the sky was thick with stars, 
and their light was enough to show that the grass 
had grown long on the grave, and that there was a 
tombstone telling in bright letters, on a dark ground, 
that beneath were deposited the remains of Amelia, 
the beloved wife of Amos Barton, who died in the 
thirty-fifth year of her age, leaving a husband and 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



six cliiltlrcn to lament her loss. The final words 
of tlu5 iiiscrij)tion were, "Thy will be done." 

The Inisband was now advancmg towards the dear 
mom 1(1 fVom which he was so soon to be parted, 
jxn haps for ever. He stood a few minutes reading 
over and over again the words on the tombstone, as 
if to assure himself that all the happy and unhappy 
past was a reality. For love is frightened at the 
intervals of insensibility and callousness that en- 
croach by little and little on the dominion of grief, 
and it makes efforts to recall the keenness of the 
first anguish. 

Gradually, as his eye dwelt on the words, "Amelia, 
the beloved wife," the waves of feeling swelled with- 
in his soul, and he threw himself on the grave, clasp- 
ing it with his arms, and kissing the cold turf 

" Milly, Milly, dost thou hear me ? I didn't love 
thee enough — I wasn't tender enough to thee — but 
I think of it all now." 

The sobs came and choked his utterance, and 
the warm tears fell. 



123 



CONCLUSION 

Only once again in his life has Amos Barton visited 
Milly's grave. It was in the calm and softened 
light of an autumnal afternoon, and he was not 
alone. He held on his arm a young woman, with 
a sweet, grave face, which strongly recalled the 
expression of Mrs Barton's, but was less lovely in 
form and colour. She was about thirty, but there 
were some premature lines round her mouth and 
eyes, which told of early anxiety. 

Amos himself was much changed. His thin circlet 
of hair was nearly white, and his walk was no longer 
firm and upright. But his glance was calm, and 
even cheerful, and his neat linen told of a woman's 
care. Milly did not take all her love from the earth 
when she died. She liad left some of it in Patty's 
heart. 

All the other children were now grown up, and 
had gone their several ways. Dickey, you will be 
glad to hear, had shown remarkable talents as an 
engineer. His cheeks are still ruddy, in spite of 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



inixcil iiiatlu'iiKitics, and his eyes are still large and 
blue ; but in otlior respects his person would present 
no marks of identification for his friend Mrs Hackit, 
if she were 1o see liini ; especially now that her eyes 
must be grown very dim, with the wear of more 
tlian twenty additional years. He is nearly six feet 
liigli, and lias a proportionately broad chest 5 he 
wears spectacles, and rubs liis large white hands 
through a mass of shaggy brown hair. But I am 
sure you have no doubt that Mr Eichard Barton is 
a thoroughly good fellow, as well as a man of talent, 
and you will be glad any day to shake hands with 
him, for his own sake as well as his mother's. 

Patty alone remains by her flxther's side, and 
makes the evening sunshine of his life. 



GILFIL'S LOYE-STOEY 



CHAPTEK 1. 



When old Mr Gilfil died, thirty years ago, there was 
general sorrow in Shepperton ; and if black cloth had 
not been hung round the pulpit and reading-desk, by 
order of his nephew and principal legatee, the parish- 
ioners would certainly have subscribed the necessary 
sum out of their own pockets, rather than allow such 
a tribute of respect to be wanting. All the farmers' 
wives brought out their black bombasines ; and Mrs 
Jennings, at the Wharf, by appearing the first Sun- 
day after Mr Gilfil's death in her salmon-coloured 
ribbons and green shawl, excited the severest re- 
mark. To be sure, Mrs Jennings was a new-comer, 
and town-bred, so that she could hardly be expected 
to have very clear notions of what was proper ; but 
as Mrs Higgins observed in an undertone to Mrs 
Parrot when they were coming out of church, " Her 
husband, who'd been born i' the parish, might ha' 
told her better." An unreadiness to put on black on 
all available occasions, or too great an alacrity in 
putting it off, argued, in Mrs Iliggins's opinion, a 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



(laiigorons levity of character, and an unnatural in- 
sensibility to the essential fitness of things. 

" Some folks can't a-bear to put off their colours," 
slie reniarlc(Ml ; ''but that was never the way i' my 
family. AVliy, Mrs Parrot, from the time I was 
married, till Mr Higgins died, nine years ago come 
Candlemas, I niver was out o' black two year to- 
gether ! " 

" Ah," said Mrs Parrot, who was conscious of in- 
feriority in this respect, " there isn't many families 
as have had so many deaths as yours, Mrs Higgins." 

Mrs Higgins, who was an elderly widow, well 
left," reflected with complacency that Mrs Parrot's 
observation was no more than just, and that Mrs 
Jennings very likely belonged to a family which 
had had no funerals to speak of. 

Even dirty Dame Fripp, who was a very rare 
church-goer, had been to Mrs Hackit to beg a bit 
of old crape, and with this sign of grief pinned on 
her little coal-scuttle bonnet, was seen dropping her 
curtsy opposite the reading-desk. This manifesta- 
tion of respect towards Mr Gilfil's memory on the 
part of Dame Fripp had no theological bearing what- 
ever. It was due to an event which had occurred 
some years back, and which, I am sorry to say, had 
left that grimy old lady as indifferent to the means 
of grace as ever. Dame Fripp kept leeches, and 
was understood to have such remarkable influence 
over those wilful animals in inducing them to bite 
under the most unpromising circumstances, that 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



129 



though her own leeches were usually rejected, from 
a suspicion that they had lost their appetite, she 
herself was constantly called in to apply the more 
lively individuals furnished from Mr Pilgrim's sur- 
gery, when, as was very often the case, one of that 
clever man's paying patients was attacked with 
inflammation. Thus Dame Fripp, in addition to 
" property " supposed to yield her no less than 
half- a -crown a -week, was in the receipt of profes- 
sional fees, the gross amount of which was vaguely 
estimated by her neighbours as " pouns an' pouns.' 
Moreover, she drove a brisk trade in lollipop with 
epicurean urchins, who recklessly purchased that 
luxury at the rate of two hundred per cent. Never- 
theless, with all these notorious sources of income, 
the shameless old woman constantly pleaded poverty, 
and begged for scraps at Mrs Hackit's, who, though 
she always said Mrs Fripp was ''as false as two 
folks," and no better than a miser and a heathen, 
had yet a leaning towards her as an old neighbour. 

"There's that case-hardened old Judy a -coming- 
after the tea-leaves again," Mrs Hackit would say ; 
" an' I'm fool enough to give 'em her, though Sally 
wants 'em all the while to sweep the floors with ! " 

Such was Dame Fripp, whom Mr Gilfil, riding 
leisurely in top-boots and spurs from doing duty at 
Knebley one warm Sunday afternoon, observed sit- 
ting in the dry ditch near her cottage, and by her 
side a large pig, who, with that ease and confidence 
belonging to perfect friendship, was lying with his 

VOL. L I 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



head ill hcv lap, and making no effort to play the 
agicrabh' hoyond an occasional grunt. 

Why, Mrs Fripp," said the Vicar, ''I didn't know 
you liad such a fine })ig. You'll have some rare 
Hitches at Christmas!" 

" Eh, God forbid ! My son gev him me two 'ear 
ago, an' he's been company to me iver sin'. I couldn't 
find i' my heart to part wi'm, if I niver knowed the 
taste o' bacon-fat again." 

" Wliy, he'll eat his head off, and yours too. How 
can you go on keeping a pig, and making nothing 
by him?" 

" Oh, he picks a bit hisself wi' rootin', and I dooant 
mind doing wi'out to gi' him summat. A bit o' 
coompany's meat an' drink too, an' he follers me 
about, and grunts when I spake to'm, just like a 
Christian." 

Mr Gilfil laughed, and I am obliged to admit that 
he said good-bye to Dame Fripp without asking her 
why she had not been to church, or making the 
slightest effort for her spiritual edification. But the 
next day he ordered his man David to take her a 
great piece of bacon, with a message, saying, the 
parson wanted to make sure that Mrs Fripp would 
know the taste of bncon-fat again. So, when Mr 
Gilfil died. Dame Fripp manifested her gratitude 
and reverence in the simple dingy fashion I have 
mentioned. 

You already suspect that the Vicar did not shine 
in the more spiritual functions of his office ; and in- 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



131 



deed, the -utmost I can say for him in this respect is, 
that he performed those functions with undeviating 
attention to brevity and despatch. He had a large 
heap of short sermons, rather yellow and worn at the 
edges, from which he took two every Sunday, secur- 
ing perfect impartiality in the selection by taking 
them as they came, without reference to topics ; and 
having preached one of these sermons at Shepperton 
in the morning, he mounted his horse and rode hastily 
with the other in his pocket to Knebley, where he 
oflSciated in a wonderful little church, with a check- 
ered pavement which had once rung to the iron tread 
of military monks, with coats of arms in clusters on 
the lofty roof, marble warriors and their wives with- 
out noses occupying a large proportion of the area, 
and the twelve apostles, with their heads very much 
on one side, holding didactic ribbons, painted in fresco 
on the walls. Here, in an absence of mind to which 
he was prone, Mr Gilfil would sometimes forget to take 
off his spurs before putting on his surplice, and only 
become aware of the omission by feeling something 
mysteriously tugging at the skirts of that garment 
as he stepped into the reading-desk. But the Kneb- 
ley farmers would as soon have thought of criticising 
the moon as their pastor. He belonged to the course 
of nature, like markets and toll-gates and dirty bank- 
notes ; and being a vicar, his claim on their venera- 
tion had never been counteracted by an exasperating 
claim on their pockets. Some of them, who did not 
indulge in the superfluity of a covered cart without 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



snrin<;s, had dinod half an hour earlier than usual — 
tliat is to say, at twelve o'clock — in order to have 
time lor their long walk through miry lanes, and 
present themselves duly in their places at two 
o'clock, when Mr Oldinport and Lady Felicia, to 
whom Knebley Church was a sort of family temple, 
made their way among the bows and curtsies of their 
dependants to a carved and canopied pew in the 
chancel, diffusing as they went a delicate odour of 
Indian roses on the unsusceptible nostrils of the 
congregation. 

The farmers' wives and children sate on the dark 
oaken benches, but the husbands usually chose the 
distinctive dignity of a stall under one of the twelve 
apostles, where, when the alternation of prayers and 
responses had given place to the agreeable monotony 
of the sermon. Paterfamilias might be seen or heard 
sinking into a pleasant doze, from which he infallibly 
wTjke up at the sound of the concluding doxology. 
And then they made their way back again through 
the miry lanes, perhaps almost as much the better 
for tins simple weekly tribute to what they knew of 
good and right, as many a more wakeful and critical 
congregation of the present day. 

Mr Gilfil, too, used to make his way home in the 
later years of his life, for he had given up the habit 
of dining at Knebley Abbey on a Sunday, having, I 
am sorry to say, had a very bitter quarrel with Mr 
Oldinport, the cousin and predecessor of the Mr 
Oldinport who flourished in the Eev. Amos Barton's 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



133 



time. That quarrel was a sad pity, for the two had 
had many a good day's hunting together when they 
were younger, and in those friendly times not a few 
members of the hunt envied Mr Oldinport the ex- 
cellent terms he was on with his vicar ; for, as Sir 
Jasper Sitwell observed, " next to a man's wife, 
there's nobody can be such an infernal plague to 
you as a parson, always under your nose on your 
own estate." 

I fancy the original difference which led to the 
rupture was very slight ; but Mr Gilfil was of an 
extremely caustic turn, his satire having a flavour of 
originality which was quite wanting in his sermons ; 
and as Mr Oldinport' s armour of conscious virtue 
presented some considerable and conspicuous gaps, 
the Vicar's keen-edged retorts probably made a few 
incisions too deep to be forgiven. Such, at least, 
was the view of the case presented by Mr Hackit, 
who knew as much of the matter as any third per- 
son. For, the very week after the quarrel, when pre- 
siding at the annual dinner of the Association for the 
Prosecution of Felons, held at the Oldinport Arms, 
he contributed an additional zest to the conviviality 
on that occasion by informing the company that " the 
parson had given the Squire a lick with the rough 
side of his tongue." The detection of the person 
or persons who had driven off Mr Parrot's heifer, 
could hardly have been more welcome news to the 
Shepperton tenantry, with whom Mr Oldinport was 
in the worst odour as a landlord, having kept up his 



I'M 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



rents in spite of falling prices, and not being in 
the least stung to emulation by paragraphs in the 
provincial newspapers, stating that the Honourable 
Augustus Turwell, or Viscount Blethers, had made a 
return of ten per cent on their last rent-day. The 
fact was, Mr Oldinport had not the slightest inten- 
\'um of standing for Parliament, whereas he had the 
strongest intention of adding to his unentailed estate. 
Hence, to the Sliepperton farmers it was as good as 
lemon with their grog to know that the Vicar had 
thrown out sarcasms against the Squire's charities, as 
little better than those of the man who stole a goose, 
and gave away the giblets in alms. For Sliepperton, 
you observe, was in a state of Attic culture compared 
with Knebley ; it had turnpike roads and a public 
opinion, whereas, in the Boeotian Knebley, men's 
minds and waggons alike moved in the deepest of 
ruts, and the landlord was only grumbled at as a 
necessary and unalterable evil, like the weather, the 
weevils, and the turnip-fly. 

Thus in Sliepperton this breach with Mr Oldin- 
port tended only to heighten that good understand- 
ing which the Vicar had always enjoyed with the 
rest of his parishioners, from the generation whose 
children ho had christened a quarter of a century 
before, down to that hopeful generation represented 
by little Tommy Bond, who had recently quitted 
frocks and trousers for the severe simplicity of a 
tight suit of corduroys, relieved by numerous brass 
buttons. Tommy was a saucy boy, impervious to all 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY. 



135 



impressions of reverence, and excessively addicted to 
humming-tops and marbles, with which recreative 
resources he was in the habit of immoderately dis- 
tending the pockets of his corduroys. One day, 
spinning his top on the garden- walk, and seeing the 
Vicar advance directly towards it, at that exciting 
moment when it was beginning to sleep " mag- 
nificently, he shouted out with all the force of his 
lungs — "Stop! don't knock my top down, now!" 
From that day " little Corduroys " had been an 
especial favourite with Mr Gilfil, who delighted 
to provoke his ready scorn and wonder by putting 
questions which gave Tommy the meanest opinion 
of his intellect. 

"Well, little Corduroys, have they milked the 
geese to-day?" 

" Milked the geese ! why, they don't milk the 
geese, you silly I " 

" No ! dear heart ! why, how do the goslings live, 
then?" 

The nutriment of goslings rather transcending 
Tommy's observations in natural history, he feigned 
to understand this question in an exclamatory rather 
than an interrogatory sense, and became absorbed in 
winding up his top. 

"Ah, I see you don't know how the goslings 
live ! But did you notice how it rained sugar- 
plums yesterday ?" (Here Tommy became attentive.) 
"Why, they fell into my pocket as I rode along. 
You look in my pocket and see if they didn't." 



13G 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



ToiHiny, without wiiitin**; to discuss the alleged 
niitcccdriit, lost no time in ascertaining the presence 
of the agreeable consequent, for he liad a well- 
founded Ix'liof in the advantages of diving into the 
\'iears pocket. Mr Gilfil called it his wonderful 
pocket, because, as he delighted to tell the "young 
shavers" and "two-slioes" — so he called all little 
boys and girls — whenever he put pennies into it, 
they turned into sugar -plums or gingerbread, or 
some other nice thing. Indeed, little Bessie Parrot, 
a flaxen-headed " two-shoes," very white and fat as 
to her neck, always had the admirable directness 
and sincerity to salute him with the question — 
"What zoo dot in zoo pottet?" 

You can imagine, then, that the christening 
dinners were none the less merry for the presence 
of the parson. The formers relished his society 
particularly, for he could not only smoke his pipe, 
and season the details of parish affairs with abun- 
dance of caustic jokes and proverbs, but, as Mr 
Bond often said, no man knew more than the Vicar 
about the breed of cows and horses. He had 
grazing-land of his own about five miles off, which 
a bailiff, ostensibly a tenant, farmed under his direc- 
tion ; and to ride backwards and forwards, and look 
after the buying and selling of stock, was the old 
gentleman's chief relaxation, now his hunting-days 
were over. To hear him discussing the respective 
merits of the Devonshire breed and the short-horns, 
or the last foolish decision of the magistrates about a 



MR GILFIL S LOVE-STORY. 



137 



pauper, a superficial observer might have seen little 
difference, beyond his superior shrewdness, between 
the Vicar and his bucolic parishioners ; for it was his 
habit to approximate his accent and mode of speech 
to theirs, doubtless because he thought it a mere 
frustration of the purposes of language to talk of 
" shear-hogs " and " ewes " to men who habitually 
said "sharrags" and "yowes." Nevertheless the 
farmers themselves were perfectly aware of the dis- 
tinction between them and the parson, and had not 
at all the less belief in him as a gentleman and a 
clergyman for his easy speech and familiar manners. 
Mrs Parrot smoothed her apron and set her cap 
right with the utmost solicitude when she saw 
the Vicar coming, made him her deepest curtsy, 
and every Christmas had a fat turkey ready to 
send him with her " duty." And in the most gos- 
siping colloquies with Mr Gilfil, you might have 
observed that both men and women minded their 
words," and never became indifferent to his appro- 
bation. 

The same respect attended him in his strictly 
clerical functions. The benefits of baptism were 
supposed to be somehow bound up with Mr Gilfil's 
personality, so metaphysical a distinction as that 
between a man and his office being, as yet, quite 
foreign to the mind of a good Shepperton Church- 
man, savouring, he would have thought, of Dissent 
on the very face of it. Miss Selina Parrot put off 
her marriage a whole month when Mr Gilfil had an 



138- 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



attack of rlicniiKitism, rather than be married in a 
makeshift manner by the Milby curate. 

" We've had a very good sermon this morning," 
was the frequent remark, after hearing one of the 
old yellow series, heard with all the more satisfaction 
because it had been heard for the twentieth time ; 
for to minds on the Shepperton level it is repetition, 
not novelty, that produces the strongest effect ; and 
phrases, like tunes, are a long time making them- 
selves at home in the brain. 

Mr Gilfil's sermons, as you may imagine, were not 
of a highly doctrinal, still less of a polemical, cast. 
They perhaps did not search the conscience very 
powerfully ; for you remember that to Mrs Patten, 
who had listened to them thirty years, the announce- 
ment that she was a sinner appeared an uncivil 
heresy ; but, on the other hand, they made no un- 
reasonable demand on the Shepperton intellect — 
amounting, indeed, to little more than an expan- 
sion of the concise thesis, that those who do wrong 
will find it the worse for them, and those who do 
well will find it the better for them ; the nature 
of wrong -doing being exposed in special sermons 
against lying, backbiting, anger, slothfulness, and 
the like ; and well - doing being interpreted as 
honesty, truthfulness, charity, industry, and other 
common virtues, lying quite on the surface of life, 
and having very little to do with deep spiritual 
doctrine. Mrs Patten understood that if she turned 
out ill-crushed cheeses, a just retribution awaited 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



139 



her ; though, I fear, she made no particular applica- 
tion of the sermon on backbiting. Mrs Hackit ex- 
pressed herself greatly edified by the sermon on 
honesty, the allusion to the unjust weight and 
deceitful balance having a peculiar lucidity for her, 
owing to a recent dispute with her grocer ; but I am 
not aware that she ever appeared to be much struck 
by the sermon on anger. 

As to any suspicion that Mr Gilfil did not dispense 
the pure Gospel, or any strictures on his doctrine 
and mode of delivery, such thoughts never visited 
the minds of the Shepperton parishioners — of those 
very parishioners who, ten or fifteen years later, 
showed themselves extremely critical of Mr Barton's 
discourses and demeanour. But in the interim they 
had tasted that dangerous fruit of the tree of know- 
ledge — innovation, which is well known to open the 
eyes, even in an uncomfortable manner. At present, 
to find fault with the sermon was regarded as almost 
equivalent to finding fault with religion itself. One 
Sunday, Mr Hackit's nephew. Master Tom Stokes, 
a flippant town youth, greatly scandalised his ex- 
cellent relatives by declaring that he could write as 
good a sermon as Mr Gilfil's ; whereupon Mr Hackit 
sought to reduce the presumptuous youth to utter 
confusion, by offering him a sovereign if he would 
fulfil his vaunt. The sermon was written, however ; 
and though it was not admitted to be anywhere 
within reach of Mr Gilfil's, it was yet so astonish- 
ingly like a sermon, having a text, three divisions, 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



and a (•()iiclu(]iii<>,- exhortation beginning "And now, 
my Iticlhrcn/' that the sovereign, though denied 
fonnally, was bestowed informally, and the sermon 
was pronounced, when Master Stokes's back was 
turned, to be " an unconniion cliver thing." 

The Rev. Mr Pickard, indeed, of the Independent 
Meeting, liad stated, in a sermon preached at 
Rotherby, for the reduction of a debt on New Zion, 
built, with an exuberance of faith and a deficiency 
of funds, by seceders from the original Zion, that 
he lived in a parish where tlie Vicar was very 
" dark and in the prayers he addressed to his own 
congregation, he was in the habit of comprehensively 
alluding to the parishioners outside the chapel walls, 
as those who, Gallio-like, ''cared for none of these 
things." But I need hardly say that no clmrch-goer 
ever came within earshot of Mr Pickard. 

It was not to the Shepperton farmers only that 
Mr Gilfil's society was acceptable ; he was a welcome 
guest at some of the best houses in that part of the 
country. Old Sir Jasper Sitwell would have been 
glad to see him every week ; and if you had seen 
him conducting Lady Sitwell in to dinner, or had 
heard him talking to her with quaint yet graceful 
gallantry, you would have inferred that the earlier 
period of his life had been passed in more stately 
society than could be found in Shepperton, and that 
his slipshod chat and homely manners were but like 
weather-stains on a fine old block of marble, allow- 
ing you still to see here and there the fineness of 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STOEY. 



141 



the grain, and the delicacy of the original tint. But in 
his later years these visits became a little too trouble- 
some to the old gentleman, and he was rarely to be 
found anywhere of an evening beyond the bounds of 
his own parish — most frequently, indeed, by the side 
of his own sitting-room fire, smoking his pipe, and 
maintaining the pleasing antithesis of dryness and 
moisture by an occasional sip of gin-and- water. 

Here I am aware that I have run the risk of 
alienating all my refined lady -readers, and utterly 
annihilating any curiosity they may have felt to 
know the details of Mr Gilfil's love-story. " Gin- 
and-water ! foh ! you may as well ask us to interest 
ourselves in the romance of a tallow-chandler, who 
mingles the image of his beloved with short dips and 
moulds." 

But in the first 2:)lace, dear ladies, allow me to 
plead that gin-and-water, like obesity, or baldness, 
or the gout, does not exclude a vast amount of ante- 
cedent romance, any more than the neatly-executed 
"fronts" which you may some day wear, will ex- 
clude your present possession of less expensive 
braids. Alas, alas ! we poor mortals are often little 
better than wood-ashes — there is small sign of the 
sap, and the leafy freshness, and the bursting buds 
that were once there ; but wherever we see wood- 
ashes, we know that all that early fulness of life 
must have been. I, at least, hardly ever look at a 
bent old man, or a wizened old woman, but I see 
also, with my mind's eye, that Past of which they 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE, 



livo tlie sliniiikcii remnant, and the unfinished ro- 
nianrc of losy cheeks and bri<2;ht eyes seems some- 
times of leeble interest and significance, compared 
with that drama of hope and love wliich lias long 
ago reached its catastrophe, and left the poor soul, 
like a dim and dusty stage, with all its sweet 
garden-scenes and fair perspectives overturned and 
thrust out of sight. 

In the second place, let me assure you that Mr 
Gilfil's potations of gin-and-water were quite moder- 
ate. His nose was not rubicund ; on the contrary, 
his wliite hair hung around a pale and venerable 
face. He drank it chiefly, I believe, because it was 
cheap ; and here I find myself alighting on another 
of the Vicar's weaknesses, which, if I had cared to 
paint a flattering portrait rather than a faithful one, 
I might have chosen to suppress. It is undeniable 
that, as the years advanced, Mr Gilfil became, as 
Mr Hackit observed, more and more ''close-fisted," 
though the growing propensity showed itself rather 
in the parsimony of his personal habits, than in 
withholding help from the needy. He was saving 
— so he represented the matter to himself — for a 
nephew, the only son of a sister who had been the 
dearest object, all but one, in his life. " The lad," 
he thought, " will have a nice little fortune to begin 
life with, and will bring his pretty young wife some 
day to see the spot where his old uncle lies. It 
will perhaps be all the better for his hearth that 
mine was lonely." 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 143 

Mr Gilfil was a bachelor, then ? 

That is the conclusion to which you would pro- 
bably have come if you had entered his sitting- 
room, where the bare tables, the large old-fashioned 
horse-hair chairs, and the threadbare Turkey carpet 
perpetually fumigated with tobacco, seemed to tell 
a story of wifeless existence that was contradicted 
by no portrait, no piece of embroidery, no faded bit 
of pretty triviality, hinting of taper-fingers and small 
feminine ambitions. And it was here that Mr Gilfil 
passed his evenings, seldom with other society than 
that of Ponto, his old brown setter, who, stretched 
out at full length on the rug with his nose between 
his fore-paws, would wrinkle his brows and lift up 
his eyelids every now and then, to exchange a 
glance of mutual understanding with his master. 
But there was a chamber in Shepperton Vicarage 
which told a different story from that bare and 
cheerless dining-room — a chamber never entered by 
any one besides Mr Gilfil and old Martha the house- 
keeper, who, with David her husband as groom and 
gardener, formed the Vicar's entire establishment. 
The blinds of this chamber were always down, 
except once a -quarter, when Martha entered that 
she might air and clean it. She always asked Mr 
Gilfil for the key, which he kept locked up in his 
bureau, and returned it to him when she had finished 
her task. 

It was a touching sight that the daylight streamed 
in upon, as Martha drew aside the blinds and thick 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



curtains, and opened the Gothic casement of the 
oriel window ! On the little dressing-table there 
was a dainty looking-glass in a carved and gilt 
frame ; bits of wax-candle were still in the branched 
sockets at the sides, and on one of these branches 
hnng a little black lace kerchief; a faded satin pin- 
cusliion, with the pins rusted in it, a scent-bottle, 
and a large green fan, lay on the table ; and on a 
dressing-box by the side of the glass was a work- 
basket, and an unfinished baby-cap, yellow with age, 
lying in it. Two gowns, of a fxshion long forgotten, 
were hanging on nails against the door, and a pair 
of tiny red slippers, with a bit of tarnished silver 
embroidery on them, were standing at the foot of the 
bed. Two or three water-colour drawings, views of 
Naples, hung upon the walls ; and over the mantel- 
piece, above some bits of rare old china, two min- 
iatures in oval frames. One of these miniatures 
represented a young man about seven-and-twenty, 
with a sanguine complexion, full lips, and clear 
candid grey eyes. The other was the likeness of 
a girl probably not more than eighteen, with small 
features, thin cheeks, a pale southern-looking com- 
plexion, and large dark eyes. The gentleman wore 
powder ; the lady had her dark hair gathered away 
from her face, and a little cap, with a cherry-coloured 
bow, set on the top of her head — a coquettish head- 
dress, but the eyes spoke of sadness rather than of 
coquetry. 

Such were the things that Martha had dusted and 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



145 



let the air upon, four times a-year, ever since she 
was a blooming lass of twenty ; and she was now, 
in this last decade of Mr Gilfil's life, unquestionably 
on the wrong side of fifty. Such was the locked- 
up chamber in Mr Gilfil's house : a sort of visible 
symbol of the secret chamber in his heart, where he 
had long turned the key on early hopes and early 
sorrows, shutting up for ever all the passion and the 
poetry of his life. 

There were not many people in the parish, besides 
Martha, who had any very distinct remembrance of 
Mr Gilfil's wife, or indeed who knew anything of her, 
beyond the fact that there was a marble tablet, with 
a Latin inscription in memory of her, over the 
vicarage pew. The parishioners who were old 
enough to remember her arrival were not generally 
gifted with descriptive powers, and the utmost you 
could gather from them was, that Mrs Gilfil looked 
like a '^furriner, wi' such eyes, you can't think, an' 
a voice as went through you when she sung at 
church." The one exception was Mrs Patten, whose 
strong memory and taste for personal narrative made 
her a great source of oral tradition in Shepperton. 
Mr Hacldt, who had not come into the parish until 
ten years after Mrs Gilfil's death, would often put 
old questions to Mrs Patten for the sake of getting 
the old answers, which pleased him in the same 
way as passages from a favourite book, or the 
scenes of a familiar play, please more accomplished 
people. 

VOL. L K 



nr. 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



''All, yon remember well the Sunday as Mrs Gilfil 
first come to clim-cli, eli, Mrs Patten?" 

To be sure I do. It was a fine bright Sunday as 
ever was seen, just at the beginnin' o' hay harvest. 
Mr Tarbett preaelied that day, and Mr Gilfil sat i' 
tlie pew with his wife. I think I see him now, a- 
leading li^r up tlie aisle, an' her head not reachin' 
much above his elber : a little pale woman, w^ith 
eyes as black as sloes, an' jat lookin' blank-like, as 
if she see'd nothing with 'em." 

*' I warrant she had her weddin' clothes on?" said 
Mr Hackit. 

" Nothin' partickler smart — on'y a white hat tied 
down under her chin, an' a white Indy muslin gown. 
But you don't know what Mr Gilfil was in those 
times. He was fine an' altered before you come 
into the 2>'ii^"ish. He'd a fresh colour then, an' a 
bright look wi' his eyes, as did your heart good to 
see. He looked rare and hapjDy that Sunday ; but 
somehow, I'd a feelin' as it wouldn't last long. I've 
no opinion o' furriners, Mr Hackit, for I've travelled 
i' their country with my lady in my time, an' seen 
enough o' their victuals an' their nasty ways." 

''Mrs Gilfil come from It'ly, didn't she?" 

" I reckon she did, but I niver could rightly hear 
about that. Mr Gilfil was niver to be spoke to about 
her, and nobody else hereabout knowed anythin'. 
Howiver, she must ha' come over pretty young, for 
she spoke English as well as you an' me. It's them 
Italians as has such fine voices, an' Mrs Gilfil sung. 



MR GILFIL'S' love-story. 



147 



you never beared the like. He brought her here to 
have tea with me one afternoon, and says be, m his 
jovial way, ' Now, Mrs Patten, I want Mrs Gilfil to 
see the neatest bouse, and drink the best cup o' tea, 
in all Shepperton ; you must show her your dairy 
and your cheese-room, and then she shall sing you 
a song.' An' so she did ; an' her voice seemed 
sometimes to fill the room ; an' then it went low 
an' soft as if it was whisperin' close to your heart 
bke." 

"You never beared her again, I reckon?" 

" No : she was sickly then, and she died in a few 
months after. She wasn't in the parish much more 
nor half a year altogether. She didn't seem bvely 
that afternoon, an' I could see she didn't care about 
the dairy, nor the cheeses, on"y she pretended, to 
please him. As for him, I niver see'd a man so 
Avrapt up in a woman. He looked at her as if he 
was worshippin' her, an' as if be wanted to lift her 
off the ground ivery minute, to save her the trouble 
o' walkin'. Poor man, poor man ! It had like to 
ha' killed him when she died, though he niver gev 
way, but went on ridin' about and preachin'. But 
he was wore to a shadow, an' his eyes used to look 
as dead — you wouldn't ha' knowed 'em." 

" She brought him no fortin?" 

" Not she. All Mr Gilfil's property come by his 
mother's side. There was blood an' money too, 
there. It's a thousand pities as he married i' that 
way — a fine man like him, as might ha' had the pick 



U8 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



(T llu» coinity, an' had liis ^Tandcliildren about him 
now. An' him so Ibnd o' children, too." 

In this mamier Mrs Patten usually wound up her 
reminiscences of the Vicar's wife, of whom, you per- 
ceive, she knew but little. It was clear that the 
communicative old lady had nothing to tell of Mrs 
Giltil's history previous to her arrival in Shepperton, 
and that she was unacquainted with Mr Gilfil's love- 
story. 

But I, dear reader, am quite as communicative as 
Mrs Patten, and much better informed ; so that, if 
you care to know more about the Vicar's courtship 
and marriage, you need only carry your imagination 
back to the latter end of the last century, and your 
attention forward into the next chapter. 



149 



CHAPTEE II 



It is the evening of the 21st of June 1788. The day 
has been bright and sultry, and the sun will still be 
more than an hour above the horizon, but his rays, 
broken by the leafy fretwork of the elms that border 
the park, no longer prevent two ladies from carry- 
ing out their cushions and embroidery, and seating 
themselves to work on the lawn in front of Cheverel 
Manor. The soft turf gives way even under the fairy 
tread of the younger lady, whose small stature and 
slim figure rest on the tiniest of full-grown feet. She 
trips along before the elder, carrying the cushions, 
which she places in the favourite spot, just on the 
slope by a clump of laurels, where they can see the 
sunbeams sparkling among the water-lilies, and can 
be themselves seen from the dining-room windows. 
She has deposited the cushions, and now turns 
round, so that you may have a full view of her 
as she stands waiting the slower advance of the 
elder lady. You are at once arrested by her large 
dark eyes, which, in their inexpressive unconscious 



150 



SCENES OF CT.ERICAL LIFE. 



lirauty, resemble the eyes of a fawn, and it is only 
l>y all (effort of attention that you notice the absence 
(if lilooni on lier young cheek, and the southern yel- 
low isli tint of lier small nock and flxce, rising above 
the little black lace kerchief which prevents the too 
immediate comparison of her skin with her white 
muslin gown. Her large eyes seem all the more 
striking because the dark hair is gathered away 
from her face, under a little cap set at the top of 
her head, with a cherry-coloured bow on one side. 

Tlie elder lady, who is advancing towards the 
cushions, is cast in a very different mould of woman- 
hood. She is tall, and looks the taller because her 
powdered hair is turned backward over a toupee, 
and surmounted by lace and ribbons. She is nearly 
fifty, but her comjolexion is still fresh and beautiful, 
with the beauty of an auburn blond ; her proud 
pouting lips, and her head thrown a little backward 
as she walks, give an expression of hauteur which 
is not contradicted by the cold grey eye. The 
tucked -in kerchief, rising full over the low tight 
boddice of her blue dress, sets off the majestic form 
of her bust, and she treads the lawn as if she were 
one of Sir Joshua Reynolds's stately ladies, who had 
suddenly stepped from lier frame to enjo}^ the even- 
ing cool. 

" Put the cushions lower, Caterina, that we may 
not have so much sun upon us," she called out, in 
a tone of authority, when still at some distance. 

Caterina obeyed, and they sat down, making two 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



151 



bright patches of red and white and blue on the 
green background of the laurels and the lawn, which 
would look none the less pretty in a picture because 
one of the women's hearts was rather cold and the 
other rather sad. 

And a charming picture Cheverel Manor would 
have made that evening, if some English Watteau 
had been there to paint it : the castellated house 
of grey-tinted stone, with the flickering sunbeams 
sending dashes of golden light across the many- 
shaped panes in the mullioned windows, and a great 
beech leaning athwart one of the flanking towers, 
and breaking, with its dark flattened boughs, the 
too formal symmetry of the front ; the broad gravel- 
walk winding on the right, by a row of tall pines, 
alongside the pool — on the left branching out among 
swelling grassy mounds, surmounted by clumps of 
trees, where the red trunk of the Scotch fir glows 
in the descending sunlight against the bright green 
of limes and acacias ; the great pool, where a pair 
of swans are swimming lazily with one leg tucked 
under a wing, and where the open water-lilies lie 
calmly accepting the kisses of the fluttering light- 
sparkles ; the lawn, with its smooth emerald green- 
ness, sloping down to the rougher and browner her- 
bage of the park, from which it is invisibly fenced 
by a little stream that winds away from the pool, 
and disappears under a wooden bridge in the distant 
pleasure-ground ; and on this lawn our two ladies, 
whose part in the landscape tlie painter, standing 



152 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



at a fiivourablo point of view in the park, would 
represent with a few little dabs of red and white 
and l)hie. 

Seen from the great Gothic windows of the dining- 
room, they had much more definiteness of outline, 
and were distinctly visible to the three gentlemen 
sipping their claret there, as two fair women in 
whom all three had a personal interest. These gen- 
tlemen were a group worth considering attentively ; 
but any one entering that dining-room for the first 
time, would perhaps have had his attention even 
more strongly arrested by the room itself, which was 
so bare of furniture that it impressed one with its 
architectural beauty like a cathedral. A piece of 
matting stretched from door to door, a bit of worn 
carpet under the dining -table, and a sideboard in 
a deep recess, did not detain the eye for a moment 
from the lofty groined ceiling, with its richly-carved 
pendants, all of creamy white, relieved here and 
there by touches of gold. On one side, this lofty 
ceiling was supported by pillars and arches, beyond 
which a lower ceiling, a miniature copy of the higher 
one, covered the square projection which, with its 
three large pointed windows, formed the central 
feature of the building. The room looked less like 
a place to dine in than a piece of space enclosed 
simply for the sake of beautiful outline ; and the small 
dining -table, with the party round it, seemed an odd 
and insignificant accident, rather than anything con- 
nected with the original purpose of the apartment. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



153 



But, examined closely, that group was far from 
insignificant ; for the eldest, who was reading in the 
newspaper the last portentous proceedings of the 
French parliaments, and turning with occasional 
comments to his young companions, was as fine a 
specimen of the old English gentleman as could 
well have been found in those venerable days of 
cocked-hats and pigtails. His dark eyes sparkled 
under projecting brows, made more prominent by 
bushy grizzled eyebrows ; but any apprehension of 
severity excited by these penetrating eyes, and by 
a somewhat aquiline nose, was allayed by the good- 
natured lines about the mouth, which retained all 
its teeth and its vigour of expression in spite of 
sixty winters. The forehead sloped a little from 
the projecting brows, and its peaked outline was 
made conspicuous by the arrangement of the pro- 
fusely-powdered hair, drawn backward and gathered 
into a pigtail. He sat in a small hard chair, which 
did not admit the slightest approach to a lounge, 
and which showed to advantage the flatness of his 
back and the breadth of his chest. In fact Sir 
Christopher Cheverel was a splendid old gentleman, 
as any one may see who enters the saloon at Chev- 
erel Manor, where his full-length portrait, taken 
when he was fifty, hangs side by side with that of 
his wife, the stately lady seated on the lawn. 

Looking at Sir Christopher, you would at once 
have been inclined to hope that he had a full-grown 
son and heir ; but perhaps you would have wished 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



tliat it inii;lit not i)i-()vo to bo tlio young man on his 
rii;ht liaiul, in whom a certain resemblance to the 
Uaroiirt, in the contour of the nose and brow, seemed 
to indicate a family relationship. If this young man 
had been less elegant hi his person, he would have 
been remarked for tlie elegance of his dress. But 
the perfections of his slim well-proportioned figure 
were so striking that no one but a tailor could notice 
the perfections of his velvet coat ; and his small 
wliite hands, with their blue veins and taper fingers, 
quite eclipsed the beauty of his lace ruffles. The 
face, however — it was difficult to say why — was cer- 
tainly not pleasing. Nothing could be more delicate 
than the blond complexion — its bloom set off by the 
powdered hair — than the veined overhanging eyelids, 
which gave an indolent expression to the hazel eyes ; 
nothing more finely cut than the transparent nostril 
and the short upper-lip. Perhaps the chin and lower 
jaw were too small for an irreproachable profile, but 
the defect was on the side of that delicacy and finesse 
which was the distinctive characteristic of the whole 
person, and which was carried out in the clear brown 
arch of the eyebrows, and the marble smoothness of 
the sloping forehead. Impossible to say that this 
face was not eminently handsome ; yet, for the 
majority, both of men and women, it was destitute 
of charm. \Yomen disliked eyes that seemed to be 
indolently accepting admiration instead of rendering 
it f and men, especially if they had a tendency to 
clumsiness in tlio nose and ankles, were inclined to 



MR GILFIL's LOVE-STOEY. 



155 



think this Antinous in a pigtail a ''confounded 
puppy." I fancy that was frequently the inward 
interjection of the Rev. Maynard Gilfil, who was 
seated on the opposite side of the dining -table, 
though Mr Gilfil's legs and profile were not at all 
of a kind to make him peculiarly alive to the imper- 
tinence and frivolity of personal advantages. His 
healthy open face and robust limbs were after an 
excellent pattern for everyday wear, and, in the 
opinion of Mr Bates, the north- country gardener, 
would have become regimentals ''a fain saight" 
better than the ''peaky" features and slight form of 
Captain Wybrow, notwithstanding that this young 
gentleman, as Sir Christopher's nephew and destined 
heir, had the strongest hereditary claim on the gar- 
dener's respect, and was undeniably " clean-limbed." 
But alas ! human longings are perversely obstinate ; 
and to the man whose mouth is watering for a 
peach, it is of no use to offer the largest vegetable 
marrow. Mr Gilfil was not sensitive to Mr Bates's 
opinion, whereas he was sensitive to the opinion of 
another person, who by no means shared Mr Bates's 
preference. 

Who the other person was it would not have re- 
quired a very keen observer to guess, from a certain 
eagerness in Mr Gilfil's glance as that little figure 
in white tripped along the lawn with the cushions. 
Captain Wybrow, too, was looking in the same 
direction, but his handsome face remained hand- 
some — and nothing more. 



SCENES OF CLEKTCAL LIFE. 



'* Ah," said Sir Christopher, looking up from his 
paper, " there's iny kidy. Ring for coffee, Anthony ; 
^ve'll go and join her, and the little monkey Tina 
sliall give us a song." 

Tlie coffee presently appeared, brought — not as 
usual by the footman, in scarlet and drab, but — 
by the old butler, in threadbare but well-brushed 
black, who, as he was placing it on the table, said — 
If you please. Sir Christopher, there's the widow 
Hartopp a-crying i' the still-room, and begs leave to 
see your honour." 

"I have given Markham full orders about the 
widow Hartopp," said Sir Christopher, in a sharp 
decided tone. " I have nothing to say to her." 

" Your honour," pleaded the butler, rubbing his 
hands, and putting on an additional coating of 
humility, " the poor woman's dreadful overcome, 
and says she can't sleep a wink this blessed night 
without seeing your honour, and she begs you to 
pardon the great freedom she's took to come at this 
time. She cries fit to break her heart." 

Ay, ay ; water pays no tax. Well, show iier 
into the library." 

Coffee despatched, the two young men walked out 
through the open window, and joined the ladies on 
the lawn, while Sir Christopher made his way to the 
library, solemnly followed by Rupert, his pet blood- 
hound, who, in his habitual place at the Baronet's 
right hand, behaved with great urbanity during 
dinner ; but when the cloth was drawn, invariably 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



157 



disappeared under the table, apparently regarding 
the claret "jug as a mere human weakness, which 
he winked at, but refused to sanction. 

The library lay but three steps from the dining- 
room, on the other side of a cloistered and matted 
passage. The oriel window was overshadowed by 
the great beech, and this, with the flat heavily- 
carved ceiling and the dark hue of the old books 
that lined the walls, made the room look sombre, 
especially on entering it from the dining-room, with 
its aerial curves and cream-coloured fretwork touched 
with gold. As Sir Christopher opened the door, a 
jet of brighter light fell on a woman in a widow's 
dress, who stood in the middle of the room, and 
made the deepest of curtsies as he entered. She 
was a buxom woman approaching forty, her eyes 
red with the tears which had evidently been ab- 
sorbed by the handkerchief gathered into a damp 
ball in her right hand. 

Now, Mrs Hartopp," said Sir Christopher, taking 
out his gold snuff-box and tapping the lid, "what 
have you to say to me? Markham has delivered 
you a notice to quit, I suppose?" 

yis, your honour, an' that's the reason why 
I've come. I hope your honour '11 think better on 
it, an' not turn me an' my poor children out o' the 
farm, wliere my husband al'ys paid his rent as reglar 
as the day come." 

" Nonsense ! I should like to know what good it 
will do you and your children to stay on a farm and 



158 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



lose every fartliiii<>; your husband has left you, in- 
stead of selling 3'oiir stock and going into some little 
phu-e where yon can keep your money together. It 
is very w vW known to every tenant of mine that 
I never allow Avidows to stay on their husband's 
farms." 

" 0, Sir Christifer, if you would consider — when 
I've sold the hay an' corn, an' all the live things, 
an' paid the debts, an' put the money out to use, I 
shall have hardly enough to keep our souls an' 
bodies together. An' how can I rear my boys and 
put 'em 'prentice ? They must go for day-labourers, 
an' tlieir father a man wd' as good belongings as any 
on your honour's estate, an' niver threshed his wheat 
afore it was well i' the rick, nor sold the straw off 
his farm, nor nothin'. Ask all the farmers round if 
there w-as a stiddier, soberer man than my husband 
as attended Eipstone market. An' he says, 'Bessie,' 
says he — them was his last words — ' you'll mek a 
shift to manage the farm, if Sir Christifer *ull let 
you stay on.' " 

'' Pooh, pooh ! " said Sir Christopher, Mrs Har- 
topp's sobs having interrupted her pleadings, now 
listen to me, and try to understand a little common- 
sense. You are about as able to manage the farm 
as your best milch cow. You'll be obliged to have 
some managing man, who will either cheat you out 
of your money, or wheedle you into marrying him." 

" , your honour, I was never that sort o' woman, 
an' nobody has known it on me." 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



159 



" Very likely not, because you were never a widow 
before. A woman's always silly enough, but she's 
never quite as great a fool as she can be until she 
puts on a widow's cap. Now, just ask yourself how 
much the better you will be for staying on your farm 
at the end of four years, when you've got through 
your money, and let your farm run down, and are 
in arrears for half your rent ; or, perhaps, have got 
some great bulky fellow for a husband, who swears 
at you and kicks your children." 

" Indeed, Sir Christifer, I know a deal o' farmin', 
an' was brought up i' the thick on it, as you may 
say. An' there was my husband's great-aunt man- 
aged a farm for twenty year, an' left legacies to all 
her nephys an' nieces, an' even to my husband, as 
was then a babe unborn." 

" Psha ! a woman six feet high, with a squint and 
sharp elbows, I daresay — a man in petticoats. Not 
a rosy-cheeked widow like you, Mrs Hartopp." 

" Indeed, your honour, I never heard of her 
squintin', an' they said as she might ha' been 
married o'er and o'er again, to people as had no 
call to hanker after her money." 

^' Ay, ay, that's what you all think. Every man 
that looks at you wants to marry you, and would 
like you the better the more children you have and 
the less money. But it is useless to talk and cry. 
I have good reasons for my plans, and never alter 
them. What you have to do is to make the best of 
your stock, and to look out for some little place to 



IGO 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



go to, when you loave The Hollows. Now, go back 
to ]\Irs Ht'llainy's room, and ask licr to give you a 
(lisli of toa." 

Mrs Hartopp, understanding from Sir Christopher's 
tone that he was not to be shaken, curtsied low and 
left the library, while the Baronet, seating himself 
at his desk in the oriel window, wrote the following 
letter :— 

" Mr Markham, — Take no steps about letting 
Crowsfoot Cottage, as I intend to put in the widow 
Hartopp when she leaves her farm ; and if you 
^vill be here at eleven on Saturday morning, I will 
ride round with you, and settle about making some 
repairs, and see about adding a bit of land to 
the take, as she will w^ant to keep a cow and some 
pigs. — Yours faithfully, 

" Christopher Cheverel." 

After ringing the bell and ordering this letter to 
be sent. Sir Christopher walked out to join the party 
on the lawn. But finding the cushions deserted, he 
walked on to the eastern front of the building, where, 
by the side of the grand entrance, was the large 
bow-window of the saloon, opening on to the gravel- 
sweep, and looking towards a long vista of undulat- 
ing turf, bordered by tall trees, which, seeming to 
■unite itself with the green of the meadows and a 
grassy road through a plantation, only terminated 
with the Gothic arcli of a gateway in the far distance. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



161 



The bow- window was open, and Sir Christopher, 
stepping in, found the group he sought, examining 
the progress of the unfinished ceiling. It was in 
the same style of florid pointed Gothic as the dining- 
room, but more elaborate in its tracery, which was 
like petrified lace-work picked out with delicate and 
varied colouring. About a fourth of it still remained 
uncoloured, and under this part were scaffolding, 
ladders, and tools ; otherwise the spacious saloon 
was empty of furniture, and seemed to be a grand 
Gothic canopy for the group of five human figures 
standing in the centre. 

" Francesco has been getting on a little better the 
last day or two," said Sir Christopher, as he joined 
the party : ^^le's a sad lazy dog, and I fancy he has 
a knack of sleeping as he stands, with his brushes 
in his hands. But I must spur him on, or we may 
not have the scaffolding cleared away before the 
bride comes, if you show dexterous generalship in 
your wooing, eh, Anthony? and take your Magde- 
burg quickly." 

" Ah, sir, a siege is known to be one of the most 
tedious operations in war," said Captain Wybrow, 
with an easy smile. 

"Not when there's a traitor within the walls in 
the shape of a soft heart. And that there will be, 
if Beatrice has her mother's tenderness as well as 
her mother's beauty." 

What do you think. Sir Christopher," said Lady 
Cheverel, who seemed to wince a little under her 

VOL. I, L 



102 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Imsband's reminiscences, " of hanging Guercino's 
'Sibyl' over that door when we put up the pictures? 
It is rather lost in my sitting-room." 

" Very good, my love," answered Sir Christopher, 
in a tone of punctiliously polite affection ; "if you 
like to part with the ornament from your own room, 
it will si low admirably here. Our portraits, by Sir 
Joshua, will hang opposite the window, and the 
' Transfiguration ' at that end. You see, Anthony, 
I am leaving no good places on the walls for you 
and your wife. We shall turn you with your faces 
to the wall in the gallery, and you may take your 
revenge on us by-and-by." 

\Vhile this conversation was going on, Mr Gilfil 
turned to Caterina and said — 

" I like the view from this window better than any 
other in the house." 

She made no answer, and he saw that her eyes 
were filling with tears ; so he added, " Suppose we 
walk out a little ; Sir Christopher and my lady seem 
to be occupied." 

Caterina complied silently, and they turned down 
one of the gravel walks that led, after many windings 
imder tall trees and among grassy openings, to a 
large enclosed flower-garden. Their walk was per- 
fectly silent, for Maynard Gilfil knew that Caterina's 
thoughts were not with him, and she had been long 
used to make him endure the weight of those moods 
which she carefully hid from others. 

They reached the flower-garden, and turned me- 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



163 



chanically in at the gate that opened, through a 
high thick hedge, on an expanse of brilliant colour, 
which, after the green shades they had passed 
through, startled the eye like flames. The effect 
was assisted by an undulation of the ground, which 
gradually descended from the entrance - gate, and 
then rose again towards the opposite end, crowned 
by an orangery. The flowers were glowing with 
their evening splendours 5 verbenas and heliotropes 
were sending up their finest incense. It seemed a 
gala where all was happiness and brilliancy, and 
misery could find no sympathy. This was the effect 
it had on Caterina. As she wound among the beds 
of gold and blue and pink, where the flowers seemed 
to be looking at her with wondering elf-like eyes, 
knowing nothing of sorrow, the feeling of isolation 
in her wretchedness overcame her, and the tears, 
which had been before trickling slowly down her 
pale cheeks, now gushed forth accompanied with 
sobs. And yet there was a loving human being 
close beside her, whose heart was aching for hers, 
who was possessed by the feeling that she was mis- 
erable, and that he was helpless to soothe her. But 
she was too much irritated by the idea that his 
wishes were different from hers, that he rather re- 
gretted the folly of her hopes than the probability 
of their disappointment, to take any comfort in his 
sympathy. Caterina, like the rest of us, turned 
away from sympathy which she suspected to be 
mingled with criticism, as the child turns away from 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



the sweetmeat in which it suspects imperceptible 
iiu'(hcin(\ 

" Dear Caterina, I think I hear voices/' said Mr 
Gilfil ; " they may be coming this way." 

She checked herself like one accustomed to con- 
ceal her emotions, and ran rapidly to the other end 
of tlie garden, wliere she seemed occupied in select- 
ing a rose. Presently Lady Cheverel entered, lean- 
ing on the arm of Captain Wybrow, and followed 
by Sir Christopher. The party stopped to admire 
the tiers of geraniums near the gate ; and in the 
meantime Caterina tripped back with a moss rose- 
bud in her hand, and, going up to Sir Christopher, 
said — "There, Padroncello — there is a nice rose 
for your button -hole." 

'^Ah, you black-eyed monkey," he said, fondly 
stroking her cheek ; " so you have been running off 
with Maynard, either to torment or coax him an inch 
or two deeper into love. Come, come, I want you 
to sing us ' Ho perduto ' before we sit down to pic- 
quet. Anthony goes to-morrow, you know; you 
must w^arble him into the right sentimental lover's 
mood, that he may acquit himself well at Bath." 
He put her little arm under his, and calling to Lady 
Cheverel, " Come, Henrietta ! " led the way towards 
the house. 

The party entered the drawing-room, which, with 
its oriel window, corresponded to the library in the 
other wing, and had also a flat ceiling heavy with 
carving and blazonry ; but the window being un- 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY. 



165 



shaded, and the walls hung with full-length portraits 
of knights and dames in scarlet, white, and gold, it 
had not the sombre effect of the library. Here hnng 
the portrait of Sir Anthony Cheverel, who in the 
reign of Charles II. was the renovator of the family 
splendour, which had suffered some declension from 
the early brilliancy of that Chevreuil who came over 
with the Conqueror. A very imposing personage 
was this Sir Anthony, standing with one arm akimbo, 
and one fine leg and foot advanced, evidently with a 
view to the gratification of his contemporaries and 
posterity. You might have taken off his splendid 
peruke, and his scarlet cloak, which was thrown 
backward from his shoulders, without annihilating 
the dignity of his appearance. And he had known 
how to choose a wife, too, for his lady, hanging 
opposite to him, with her sunny brown hair drawn 
away in bands from her mild grave face, and falling 
in two large rich curls on her snowy gently-sloping 
neck, which shamed the harsher hue and outline 
of her white satin robe, was a fit mother of " large- 
acred " heirs. 

In this room tea was served ; and here, every 
evening, as regularly as the great clock in the 
court-yard with deliberate bass tones struck nine, 
Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel sat down to pic- 
quet until half-past ten, when Mr Gilfil read prayers 
to the assembled household in the chapel. 

But now it was not near nine, and Caterina must 
sit down to the harpsichord and sing Sir Christo- 



IGO 



SCKNES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



l>lier's favourite airs, by Gluck and Paesiello, whose 
operas, for the happiness of that generation, were 
tlien to be lieard on the London stage. It happened 
tliis evening tluit the sentiment of these airs, " Che 
faro senza FAirijdlce ? " and Ho perduto il hel sembi- 
ante" in both of which the singer pours out his 
yearning after his lost love, came very close to 
Caterina's own feeling. But her emotion, instead 
of being a hindrance to her singing, gave her addi- 
tional power. Her singing was what she could do 
best ; it was her one point of superiority, in which 
it was probable she would excel the highborn beauty 
whom Anthony was to woo 5 and her love, her jeal- 
ousy, her pride, her rebellion against her destiny, 
made one stream of passion which welled forth in 
the deep rich tones of her voice. She had a rare 
contralto, which Lady Cheverel, who had high 
musical taste, had been careful to preserve her 
from straining. 

"Excellent, Caterina," said Lady Cheverel, as 
there was a pause after the wonderful linked sweet- 
ness of " Che farby I never heard you sing that 
so well. Once more ! " 

It was repeated ; and then came, " Ho perdutoj'' 
which Sir Christopher encored, in spite of the clock, 
just striking nine. When the last note was dying 
out he said — 

" There's a clever black-eyed monkey. Now bring 
out the table for picquet." 

Caterina drew out the table and placed the cards ; 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



167 



then, with her rapid fairy suddenness of motion, 
threw herself on her knees, and clasped Sir Christo- 
pher's knee. He bent down, stroked her cheek, and 
smiled. 

^' Caterina, that is foolish," said Lady Cheverel. 
I wish you would leave off those stage -players' 
antics." 

She jumped up, arranged the music on the harpsi- 
chord, and then, seeing the Baronet and his lady 
seated at picquet, quietly glided out of the room. 

Captain Wybrow had been leaning near the harp- 
sichord during the singing, and the chaplain had 
thrown himself on a sofa at the end of the room. 
They both now took up a book. Mr Gilfil chose the 
last number of the ' Gentleman's Magazine ; ' Cap- 
tain Wybrow, stretched on an ottoman near the 
door, opened ' Faublas ; ' and there was perfect sil- 
ence in the room which, ten minutes before, was 
vibrating to the passionate tones of Caterina. 

She had made her way along the cloistered pas- 
sages, now hghted here and there by a small oil-lamp, 
to the grand-staircase, which led directly to a gallery 
running along the whole eastern side of the building, 
where it was her habit to walk when she wished to 
be alone. The bright moonlight was streaming 
through the windows, throwing into strange light 
and shadow the heterogeneous objects that lined the 
long walls : Greek statues and busts of Koman em- 
perors ; low cabinets filled with curiosities, natural 
and antiquarian ; tropical birds and huge horns of 



108 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



beasts ; lliiuloo gods and strange shells ; swords and 
daggers, and bits of chain-arm our ; Eoman lamps and 
tiny models of Greek temples ; and, above all these, 
(pieer old family portraits — of little boys and girls, 
once tlie hope of the Cheverels, with close-shaven 
lieads imprisoned in stiff ruffs — of faded, pink-faced 
ladies, witli rudimentary features and highly-devel- 
oped head-dresses — of gallant gentlemen, with high 
hips, high shoulders, and red pointed beards. 

Here, on rainy days. Sir Christopher and his lady 
took their promenade, and here billiards were played ; 
but, in the evening, it was forsaken by all except 
Caterina — and, sometimes, one other person. 

She paced up and down in the moonlight, her pale 
face and thin white-robed form making her look like 
the ghost of some former Lady Cheverel come to 
revisit the glimpses of the moon. 

By-and-by she paused opposite the broad window 
above the portico, and looked out on the long vista 
of turf and trees now stretching chill and saddened 
in the moonlight. 

Suddenly a breath of warmth and roses seemed to 
float towards her, and an arm stole gently round her 
waist, while a soft hand took up her tiny fingers. 
Caterina felt an electric thrill, and was motionless 
for one long moment ; then she pushed away the 
arm and hand, and, turning round, lifted up to the 
face that hung over her, eyes full of tenderness and 
reproach. The fawn-like unconsciousness was gone, 
and in that one look were the ground tones of poor 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



169 



little Caterina's nature — intense love and fierce 
jealousy. 

^'Wliy do you push me away, Tina?" said Cap- 
tain Wybrow in a half- whisper ; " are you angry with 
me for what a hard fate puts upon me ? Would you 
have me cross my uncle — who has done so much for 
us both — in his dearest wish? You knoAv I have 
duties — we both have duties — before which feeling 
must be sacrificed." 

"Yes, yes," said Caterina, stamping her foot, and 
turning away her head ; " don't tell me what I know 
already." 

There was a voice speaking in Caterina's mind to 
which she had never yet given vent. That voice said 
continually, " Why did he make me love him — why 
did he let me know he loved me, if he knew all the 
while that he couldn't brave everything for my sake?" 
Then love answered, " He was led on by the feeling 
of the moment, as you have been, Caterina ; and now 
you ought to help him to do what is right." Then 
the voice rejoined, " It was a slight matter to him. 
He doesn't much mind giving you up. He will soon 
love that beautiful woman, and forget a poor little 
pale thing like you." 

Thus love, anger, and jealousy were struggling in 
that young soul. 

"Besides, Tina," continued Captain Wybrow in still 
gentler tones, "I shall not succeed. Miss Assher very 
likely prefers some one else ; and you know I have 
the best will in the world to fail. I shall come back 



170 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



a liai)l('ss ])acliel()r — porluipa to find you already 
inarrii'd to the good-looking chaplain, who is over 
liead and cars in love with yon. Poor Sir Chris- 
topher has made np his mind that you're to have 
(JilHl." 

''Why will you speak so? You speak from your 
own want of feeling. Go away from me." 

" Don't let us part in anger, Tina. All this may 
pass away. It's as likely as not that I may never 
marry any one at all. These palpitations may carry 
me off, and you may have the satisfaction of knowing 
that I shall never be an3^body's bridegroom. Who 
knows what may happen ? I may be my own master 
before I get into the bonds of holy matrimony, and 
be able to choose my little singing-bird. Why should 
we distress ourselves before the time ? " 

" It is easy to talk so when you are not feeling," 
said Caterina, the tears flowing fast. "It is bad to 
bear now, whatever may come after. But you don't 
care about my misery." 

"Don't I, Tina?" said Anthony in his tenderest 
tones, again stealing his arm round her waist, and 
drawing her towards him. Poor Tina was the slave 
of this voice and touch. Grief and resentment, 
retrospect and foreboding, vanished — all life before 
and after melted away in the bliss of that moment, 
as Anthony pressed his lips to hers. 

Captain Wybrow thought, " Poor Little Tina ! it 
would make her very happy to have me. But she 
is a mad little thing." 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



171 



At that moment a loiid bell startled Caterina from 
her trance of bliss. It was the summons to prayers 
in the chapel, and she hastened away, leaving Cap- 
tain Wybrow to follow slowly. 

It was a pretty sight, that family assembled to 
worship in the little chapel, where a couple of 
wax-candles threw a mild faint light on the figures 
kneeling there. In the desk was Mr Gilfil, with his 
face a shade graver than usual. On his right hand, 
kneeling on their red velvet cushions, were the 
master and mistress of the household, in their 
elderly dignified beauty. On his left, the youthful 
grace of Anthony and Caterina, in all the striking 
contrast of their colouring — he, with his exquisite 
outline and rounded fairness, like an Olympian god ; 
she, dark and tiny, like a gipsy changeling. Then 
there were the domestics kneeling on red-covered 
forms, — the women headed by Mrs Bellamy, the 
natty little old housekeeper, in snowy cap and 
apron, and Mrs Sharp, my lady's maid, of somewhat 
vinegar aspect and flaunting attire ; the men by Mr 
Bellamy the butler, and Mr Warren, Sir Christo- 
pher's venerable valet. 

A few collects from the Evening Service were what 
Mr Gilfil habitually read, ending with the simple 
petition, "Lighten our darkness." 

And then they all rose, the servants turning to 
curtsy and bow as they went out. The family re- 
turned to the drawing-room, said good-night to each 
other, and dispersed — all to speedy slumber except 



172 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



two. CiitcriiKi only cried licrself to sleep after the 
clock liiul struck twelve. Mr Gilfil lay awake still 
loiii;-cr, thinking that very likely Caterina w^as crying. 

Captain Wybrow, having dismissed his valet at 
cloven, was soon in a soft slumber, his face looking 
like a fine cameo in high relief on the slightly 
indented pillow. 



173 



CHAPTEK III. 

The last chapter has given the discerning reader 
sufficient insight into the state of things at Cheverel 
Manor in the summer of 1788. In that summer, we 
know, the great nation of France was agitated by 
conflicting thoughts and passions, which were but 
the beginning of sorrows. And in our Caterina's 
little breast, too, there were terrible struggles. The 
poor bird was beginning to flutter and vainly dash 
its soft breast against the hard iron bars of the 
inevitable, and we see too plainly the danger, if 
that anguish should go on heightening instead of 
being allayed, that the palpitating heart may be 
fatally bruised. 

Meanwhile, if, as I hope, you feel some interest in 
Caterina and her friends at Cheverel Manor, you are 
perhaps asking. How came she to be there ? How 
was it that this tiny dark-eyed child of the south, 
whose face was immediately suggestive of olive- 
covered hills and taper-lit shrines, came to have 
her home in that stately English manor-house, by 



171 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



the side of the blonde inatron, Lady Cheverel — almost 
as if a liiiiiiining-bird were found perched on one of 
the chn-trees in the park, by the side of her lady- 
sliip's liiindsoniest pouter-pigeon? Speaking good 
English, too, and joining in Protestant prayers? 
Surely she must liave been adopted and brought 
over to England at a very early age. She was. 

During Sir Christopher's last visit to Italy with 
his lady, fifteen years before, they resided for some 
time at Milan, where Sir Christopher, who was an 
enthusiast for Gothic architecture, and was then 
entertaining the project of metamorphosing his plain 
brick family mansion into the model of a Gothic 
manor-house, was bent on studying the details of 
that marble miracle, the Cathedral. Here Lady 
Cheverel, as at other Italian cities where she made 
any protracted stay, engaged a maestro to give her 
lessons in singing, for she had then not only fine 
musical taste, but a fine soprano voice. Those were 
days when very rich people used manuscript music, 
and many a man who resembled Jean Jacques in 
nothing else, resembled him in getting a livelihood 
"a copier la musique a tant la page." Lady 
Cheverel having need of this service, Maestro 
Albani told her he would send her a poveraccio 
of his acquaintance, whose manuscript was the neat- 
est and most correct he knew of. Unhappily, 
the poveraccio was not always in his best wits, 
and was sometimes rather slow in consequence ; 
but it would be a work of Christian charity 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



175 



worthy of the beautiful Signora to employ poor 
Sarti. 

The next morning, Mrs Sharp, then a blooming 
abigail of three-and-thirty, entered her lady's private 
room and said, ^' If you please, my lady, there's the 
frowiest, shabbiest man you ever saw, outside, and 
he's told Mr Warren as the singing-master sent him 
to see your ladyship. But I think you'll hardly like 
him to come in here. Belike he's only a beggar." 
Oh yes, show him in immediately." 

Mrs Sharp retired, muttering something about 
"fleas and worse." She had the smallest possible 
admiration for fair Ausonia and its natives, and 
even her profound deference for Sir Christopher and 
her lady could not prevent her from expressing 
her amazement at the infatuation of gentlefolks in 
choosing to sojourn among " Papises, in countries 
where there was no getting to air a bit o' linen, and 
where the people smelt o' garlic fit to knock you 
down." 

However she presentl}^ reappeared, ushering in a 
small meagre man, sallow and dingy, with a restless 
wandering look in his dull eyes, and an excessive 
timidity about his deep reverences, which gave 
him the air of a man who had been long a soli- 
tary prisoner. Yet through all this R(}ualor and 
wretchedness there were some traces discernible of 
comparative youth and former good looks. Lady 
Cheverel, though not very tender-hearted, still less 
sentimental, was essentially kind, and liked to dis- 



17(» SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

ponso benefits like a goddess, who looks down 
benignly on the halt, the maimed, and the blind 
that approach her shrine. She was smitten with 
some compassion at the sight of poor Sarti, who 
struck her as the mere battered wreck of a vessel 
tluit might have once floated gaily enough on its 
outward voyage to the sound of pipes and tabors. 
She spoke gently as she pointed out to him the 
operatic selections she wished him to copy, and 
he seemed to sun himself in her auburn, radiant 
presence, so that when he made his exit with the 
music-books under his arm, his bow, though not less 
reverent, was less timid. 

It was ten years at least since Sarti had seen any- 
thing so bright and stately and beautiful as Lady 
Cheverel. For the time was far off in which he had 
trod the stage in satin and feathers, the primo tenore 
ot one short season. He had completely lost his 
voice in the following winter, and had ever since 
been little better than a cracked fiddle, which is 
good for nothing but firewood. For, like many 
Italian singers, he was too ignorant to teach, and 
if it had not been for his one talent of penmanship, 
he and his young helpless wife might have starved. 
Then, just after their third child was born, fever 
came, swept away the sickly mother and the two 
eldest children, and attacked Sarti himself, who rose 
from his sick-bed with enfeebled brain and muscle, 
and a tiny baby on his hands, scarcely four months 
old. He lodged over a fruit-shop kept by a stout 



MK GILFIL'S love-story. 



177 



virago, loud of tongue and irate in temper, but who 
had had children born to her, and so had taken care 
of the tiny yellow, black-eyed bambmetta, and tended 
Sarti himself through his sickness. Here he con- 
tinued to live, earning a meagre subsistence for 
himself and his little one by the work of copying 
music, put into his hands chiefly by Maestro Albani. 
He seemed to exist for nothing but the child : he 
tended it, he dandled it, he chatted to it, living with 
it alone in his one room above the fruit-shop, only 
asking his landlady to take care of the marmoset 
during his short absences in fetching and carrying 
home work. Customers frequenting that fruit-shop 
might often see the tiny Caterina seated on the floor 
with her legs in a heap of pease, which it was her 
delight to kick about ; or perhaps deposited, like a 
kitten, in a large basket out of harm's way. 

Sometimes, however, Sarti left his little one with 
another kind of protectress. He was very regular 
in his devotions, which he paid thrice a-week in the 
great cathedral, carrying Caterina with him. Here, 
when the high morning sun was warming the 
myriad glittering pinnacles without, and struggling 
against the massive gloom within, the shadow of a 
man with a child on his arm might be seen flitting 
across the more stationary shadows of pillar and 
mullion, and making its way towards a little tinsel 
Madonna hanging in a retired spot near the choir. 
Amid all the sublimities of the mighty cathedral, 
poor Sarti had fixed on this tinsel Madonna as the 
VOL. I. M 



178 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



sviiil)nl of divine lucrcy and protection, — just as a 
cliiKl, ill llio pii'suiice of a great landscape, sees none 
(if llic glories of wood and sky, but sets its heart 
on a floating feather or insect that happens to be 
on a level with its eye. Here, then, Sarti wor- 
sl lipped and prayed, setting Caterina on the floor 
by his side ; and now and then, when the cathedral 
lay near some place where he had to call, and did 
not like to take her, he would leave her there in 
front of the tinsel Madonna, where she would sit, 
perfectly good, amusing herself with low crowing 
noises and see-sawings of her tiny body. And when 
Sarti came back, he always found that the Blessed 
Mother had taken good care of Caterina. 

That was briefly the history of Sarti, who fulfilled 
so well the orders Lady Clieverel gave him, that she 
sent him away again with a stock of new work. But 
this time, week after week passed, and he neither 
reappeared nor sent home the music intrusted to 
him. Lady Cheverel began to be anxious, and 
was thinking of sending Warren to inquire at the 
address Sarti had given her, when one day, as she 
was equipped for driving out, the valet brought in a 
small piece of paper, which, he said, had been left 
for her ladyship by a man who was carrying fruit. 
The paper contained only three tremulous lines, in 
Italian : — 

" Will the Eccelentissima, for the love of God, have 
pity on a dying man, and come to him ? " 

Lady Cheverel recognised the handwriting as 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



179 



Sarti's in spite of its tremulousness, and, going down 
to her carriage, ordered the Milanese coachman to 
drive to Strada Quinquagesima, Numero 10. The 
coach stopped in a dirty narrow street opposite La 
Pazzini's fruit-shop, and that large specimen of 
womanhood immediately presented herself at the 
door, to the extreme disgust of Mrs Sharp, who 
remarked privately to Mr Warren that La Pazzini 
was a " hijeous porpis." The fruit-woman, how- 
ever, was all smiles and deep curtsies to the Eccel- 
entissima, who, not very well understanding her 
Milanese dialect, abbreviated the conversation by 
asking to be shown at once to Signer Sarti. La 
Pazzini preceded her up the dark narrow stairs, and 
opened a door through which she begged her lady- 
ship to enter. Directly opposite the door lay Sarti, 
on a low miserable bed. His eyes were glazed, and 
no movement indicated that he was conscious of their 
entrance. 

On the foot of the bed was seated a tiny child, 
apparently not three years old, her head covered by 
a linen cap, her feet clothed with leather boots, above 
which her little yellow legs showed thin and naked. 
A frock, made of what had once been a gay flowered 
silk, was her only other garment. Her large dark 
eyes shone from out her queer little face, like two 
precious stones in a grotesque image carved in old 
ivory. She held an empty medicine-bottle in her 
hand, and was amusing herself with putting the cork 
in and drawing it out again, to hear how it would pop. 



180 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



La Pazzini wont up to the bed and said, " Ecco la 
nobilissima donna ! " but directly after screamed out, 
Holy mother ! he is dead !" 

It was so. Tlu^ entreaty had not been sent in 
time for Sarti to carry out his project of asking the 
great English lady to take care of his Caterina. That 
was the thought which haunted his feeble brain as 
soon as he began to fear that his illness would end 
in death. She had wealth — she was kind — she 
would surely do something for the poor orphan. 
And so, at last, he sent that scrap of paper which 
won the fulfilment of his prayer, though he did not 
live to utter it. Lady Cheverel gave La Pazzini 
money that the last decencies might be paid to the 
dead man, and carried away Caterina, meaning to 
consult Sir Christopher as to what should be done 
with her. Even MrS' Sharp had been so smitten 
with pity by the scene she had witnessed when she 
was summoned up-stairs to fetch Caterina, as to shed 
a small tear, though she was not at all subject to 
that weakness ; indeed, she abstained from it on 
principle, because, as she often said, it was known 
to be the worst thing in the world for the eyes. 

On the way back to her hotel. Lady Cheverel 
turned over various projects in her mind regarding 
Caterina, but at last one gained the preference over 
all the rest. Why Bhould they not take the child to 
England, and bring her up there ? They had been 
married twelve years, yet Cheverel Manor was 
cheered by no children's voices, and the old house 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



181 



would be all the better for a little of that music. 
Besides, it would be a Christian work to train this 
little Papist into a good Protestant, and graft as 
much English fruit as possible on the Italian stem. 

Sir Christopher listened to this plan with hearty 
acquiescence. He loved children, and took at once 
to the little black-eyed monkey — his name for Cate- 
rina all through her short life. But neither he nor 
Lady Cheverel had any idea of adopting her as their 
daughter, and giving her their own rank in life. 
They were much too English and aristocratic to 
think of anything so romantic. No ! the child would 
be brought up at Cheverel Manor as a protegee, to 
be ultimately useful, perhaps, in sorting worsteds, 
keeping accounts, reading aloud, and otherwise sup- 
plying the place of spectacles when her ladyship's 
eyes should wax dim. 

So Mrs Sharp had to procure new clothes, to 
replace the linen cap, flowered frock, and leathern 
boots ; and now, strange to say, little Caterina, who 
had suffered many unconscious evils in her exist- 
ence of thirty moons, first began to know conscious 
troubles. " Ignorance," says Ajax, " is a painless 
evil ; " S9, I should think, is dirt, considering the 
merry fiaces that go along with it. At any rate, 
cleanliness is sometimes a painful good, as any one 
can vouch wlio has had his face washed the wronjr 
way, by a pitiless hand witli a gold ring on tlic third 
finger. If you, reader, have not known that initi- 
atory anguish, it is idle to expect that you will form 



SCKNKS OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



uny ai)i)roxiinatc conception of what Caterina endured 
under Mrs Sharp's new dispensation of soap-and- 
water. Happily, this purgatory came presently 
to be associated in her tiny brain with a passage 
straightway to a seat of bliss — the sofa in Lady 
Clieverers sitting-room, where there were toys to be 
broken, a ride was to be had on Sir Christopher's 
knee, and a spaniel of resigned temper was prepared 
to undergo small tortures without flinching. 



183 



CHAPTER IV. 

In three montlis from the time of Caterina's adoption — 
namely, in the late autumn of 1773 — the chimneys of 
Cheverel Manor were sending up unwonted smoke, 
and the servants were awaiting in excitement the 
return of their master and mistress after a two 
years' absence. Great was, the astonishment of Mrs 
Bellamy, the housekeeper, when Mr Warren lifted a 
little black-eyed child out of the carriage, and great 
was Mrs Sharp's sense of superior information and 
experience, as she detailed Caterina's history, inter- 
spersed with copious comments, to the rest of the 
upper servants that evening, as they were taking 
a comfortable glass of grog together in the house- 
keeper's room. 

A pleasant room it was as any party need desire 
to muster in on a cold November evening. The 
fireplace alone was a picture : a wide and deep recess 
with a low brick altar in the middle, where great 
logs of dry wood sent myriad sparks up the dark 
chimney-throat ; and over the front of this recess a 



181 



SCENES OF CLEKICAL LIFE. 



largo wooden entablature bearing this motto, finely 
carved in old English letters, ** Jear ffioll antlfjonoiir 
tl)C liii'ng." And beyond the party, who formed a 
liaH-iiiooii with their chairs and well-furnished table 
round this bright fireplace, what a space of chiaro- 
scuro for the imagination to revel in ! Stretching 
across the far end of the room, what an oak table, 
high enough surely for Homer's gods, standing on 
four massive legs, bossed and bulging like sculptured 
urns ! and, lining the distant wall, what vast cup- 
boards, suggestive of inexhaustible apricot jam and 
promiscuous butler's perquisites ! A stray picture 
or two had found their way down there, and made 
agreeable patches of dark brown on the buff-coloured 
walls. High over the loud-resounding double door 
hung one which, from some indications of a face 
looming out of blackness, might, by a great synthetic 
effort, be pronounced a Magdalen. Considerably 
lower down hung the similitude of a hat and feathers, 
with portions of a ruff, stated by Mrs Bellamy to 
represent Sir Francis Bacon, who invented gun- 
powder, and, in her opinion, ''might ha' been better 
emplyed." 

But this evening the mind is but slightly arrested 
by the great Verulam, and is in the humour to think 
a dead philosopher less interesting than a living 
gardener, who sits conspicuous in the half-circle 
round the fireplace. Mr Bates is habitually a guest 
in the housekeeper's room of an evening, preferring 
the social pleasures there — the feast of gossip and 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STOKY. 



185 



the flow of grog — to a bachelor's chair in his charDi- 
ing thatched cottage on a little island, where every 
sound is remote but the cawing of rooks and the 
screaming of wild geese : poetic sounds, doubtless, 
but, humanly speaking, not convivial. 

Mr Bates was by no means an average person, to 
be passed without special notice. He was a sturdy 
Yorkshireman, approaching forty, whose face Nature 
seemed to have coloured when she was in a hurry, 
and had no time to attend to nuances^ for every inch 
of him visible above his neckcloth was of one im- 
partial redness ; so that when he was at some dis- 
tance your imagination was at liberty to place his 
lips anywhere between his nose and chin. Seen 
closer, his lips were discerned to be of a peculiar 
cut, and I fancy this had something to do with the 
peculiarity of his dialect, which, as we shall see, was 
individual rather than provincial. Mr Bates was 
further distinguished from the common herd by a 
perpetual blinking of the eyes ; and this, together 
with the red-rose tint of his complexion, and a way 
he had of hanging his head forward, and rolling it 
from side to side as he walked, gave him the air of a 
Bacchus in a blue apron, who, in the present reduced 
circumstances of Olympus, had taken to the manage- 
ment of his own vines. Yet, as gluttons are often 
thin, so sober men are often rubicund ; and Mr Bates 
was sober, with that manly, British, churchman-like 
sobriety which can carry a few glasses of grog with- 
out any perceptible clarification of ideas. 



ISG SCENES OF CLEPJCAE TJFE. 

D;ing my boottons ! " observed Mr Bates, who, at 
the conclusion of Mrs Sharp's narrative, felt himself 
urged to his strongest interjection, " it's what I 
shouldn't ha' looked for from Sir Cristhifer an' my 
lody, to bring a furrin child into the coonthry ; an' 
depend on't, whether you an' me lives to see't or 
noo, it'll coom to soom harm. The first sitiation 
iver I held — it was a hold hancient habbey, wi' the 
biggest orchard o' apples an' pears you ever see — 
there was a French valet, an' he stool silk stoockins, 
an' shirts, an' rings, an' iverythin' he could ley his 
hands on, an' run awey at last wi' th' missis's jewl- 
box. They're all alaike, them furriners. It roons i' 
th' blood." 

Well," said Mrs Sharp, with the air of a person 
who held liberal views, but knew where to draw the 
line, I'm not a-going to defend the furriners, for 
I've as good reason to know what they are as most 
folks, an' nobody '11 ever hear me say but what 
they're next door to heathens, and the hile they eat 
wi' their victuals is enough to turn any Christian's 
stomach. But for all that — an' for all as the trouble 
in respect o' washin' and managin' has fell upo' me 
through the journey — I can't say but what I think 
as my Lady an' Sir Cristifer's done a right thing by 
a hinnicent child as doesn't know its right hand 
from its left, i' bringing it where it'll learn to speak 
summat better nor gibberish, and be brought up i' 
the true religion. For as for them furrin churches 
as Sir Cristifer is so unaccountable mad after, wi' 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



187 



pictmes o' men an' women a-showing themselves 
just for all the world as God made 'em, I think, for 
my part, as it's almost a sin to go into 'em." 

" You're likely to have more foreigners, however," 
said Mr Warren, who liked to provoke the gardener, 
" for Sir Christopher has engaged some Italian work- 
men to help in the alterations in the house." 

Operations ! " exclaimed Mrs Bellamy, in alarm, 
"What operations?" 

" Why," answered Mr Warren, " Sir Christopher, 
as I understand, is going to make a new thing of 
the old Manor-house, both inside and out. And he's 
got portfolios full of plans and pictures coming. It 
is to be cased with stone, in the Gothic style — 
pretty near like the churches, you know, as far as 
I can make out ; and the ceiKngs are to be beyond 
anything that's been seen in the country. Sir Chris- 
topher's been giving a deal of study to it." 

" Dear heart alive ! " said Mrs Bellamy, " we shall 
be pisoned wi' lime an* plaster, an' hev the house 
full o' workmen colloguing wi' the maids, an' makin' 
no end o' mischief." 

" That ye may ley your life on, Mrs Bellamy," 
said Mr Bates. " Howiver, I'll noot denay that the 
Goothic stayle's prithy anoof, an' it's woonderful 
how near them stoon-carvers cuts oot the shapes o' 
the pine apples, an' shann-ucks, an' rooses. I dare 
sey Sir Cristhifer '11 meek a naice thing o' the 
Manor, an' there woon't be may gentlemen's houses 
i' the coonthry as '11 coom up to't, wi' sich a garden 



188 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



iin' ploasure-groons an' wall-fruit as King George 
niaiglit be prood on." 

Well, I can't think as the house can be better 
nor it is, Gothic or no Gothic," said Mrs Bellamy ; 

an' I've done the picldin' and preservin' in it four- 
teen year Michaelmas was a three weeks. But what 
does my lady say to't?" 

" My lady knows better than cross Sir Cristifer in 
what he's set his mind on," said Mr Bellamy, who 
objected to the critical tone of the conversation. 
" Sir Cristifer '11 hev his own way, that you may 
tek your oath. An' i' the right on't too. He's a 
gentleman born, an's got the money. But come, 
]\Iester Bates, fill your glass, an' we'll drink health 
an' happiness to his honour an' my lady, and then 
you shall give us a song. Sir Cristifer doesn't come 
hum from Italy ivery night." 

This demonstrable position was accepted without 
hesitation as ground for a toast ; but Mr Bates, ap- 
parently thinking that his song was not an equally 
reasonable sequence, ignored the second part of Mr 
Bellamy's proposal. So Mrs Sharp, who had been 
heard to say that she had no thoughts at all of 
marrying Mr Bates, though he was " a sensable 
fresh-coloured man as many a woman 'ud snap at 
for a husband," enforced Mr Bellamy's appeal. 

" Come, Mr Bates, let us hear ' Koy's Wife.' I'd 
rether hear a good old song like that, nor all the 
fine Italian toodlin." 

Mr Bates, urged thus flatteringly, stuck his 



MR* GILFIL's love-story. 



189 



thumbs into the armholes of his waistcoat, threw 
himself back in his chair with his head in that 
position in which he could look directly towards 
the zenith, and struck up a remarkably staccato 
rendering of Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch." This 
melody may certainly be taxed with excessive ite- 
ration, but that was precisely its highest recom- 
mendation to the present audience, who found it 
all the easier to swell the chorus. Nor did it at all 
diminish their pleasure that the only particular 
concerning Roy's Wife," which Mr Bates's enuncia- 
tion allowed them to gather, was that she " chated " 
him, — whether in the matter of garden stuff or of 
some other commodity, or why her name should, in 
consequence, be repeatedly reiterated with exulta- 
tion, remaining an agreeable mystery. 

Mr Bates's song formed the climax of the evening's 
good-fellowship, and the party soon after dispersed 
— Mrs Bellamy perhaps to dream of quicklime flying 
among her preserving -pans, or of love -sick house- 
maids reckless of unswept corners — and Mrs Sharp 
to sink into pleasant visions of independent house- 
keeping in Mr Bates's cottage, with no bells to 
answer, and with fruit and vegetables ad libitum. 

Caterina soon conquered all prejudices against her 
foreign blood ; for what prejudices will hold out 
against helplessness and broken prattle? She be- 
came the pet of the household, thrusting Sir Chris- 
topher's favourite bloodliound of that day, Mrs Bel- 
lamy's two canaries, and Mr Bates's largest Dorking 



190 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



lu'u, into a merely secondary position. The con- 
siMiuenco was, that in the space of a summer's day 
slu' went througli a great cycle of experiences, 
connnencing with the somewhat acidulated good- 
will of Mrs Sharp's nursery discipline. Then came 
the grave luxury of her ladyship's sitting-room, and, 
perhaps, the dignity of a ride on Sir Christopher's 
knee, sometimes followed by a visit with him to the 
stables, where Caterina soon learned to hear without 
crying the baying of the chained bloodhounds, and to 
say, with ostentatious bravery, clinging to Sir Chris- 
topher's leg all the while, " Dey not hurt Tina." 
Then Mrs Bellamy would perhaps be going out to 
gather the rose-leaves and lavender, and Tina was 
made proud and happy by being allowed to carry a 
handful in her pinafore ; happier still, when they 
were spread out on slieets to dry, so that she could 
sit down like a frog among them, and have them 
poured over her in fragrant showers. Another fre- 
quent pleasure was to take a journey with Mr Bates 
through the kitchen - gardens and the hothouses, 
where the rich bunches of green and purple grapes 
hung from the roof, far out of reach of the tiny 
yellow hand that could not help stretching itself 
out towards them ; though the hand was sure at 
last to be satisfied with some delicate - flavoured 
fruit or sweet-scented flower. Indeed, in the long 
monotonous leisure of that great country-house, 
you may be sure there was always some one who 
had nothing better to do than to play with Tina. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



191 



So that the little southern bird had its northern 
nest lined with tenderness, and caresses, and pretty 
things. A loving sensitive nature was too Hkely, 
under such nurture, to have its susceptibiKty height- 
ened into unfitness for an encounter with any harder 
experience ; all the more, because there were gleams 
of fierce resistance to any discipline that had a harsh 
or unloving aspect. For the only thing in which 
Caterina showed any precocity was a certain in- 
genuity in vindictiveness. When she was five years 
old she had revenged herself for an unpleasant pro- 
hibition by pouring the ink into Mrs Sharp's work- 
basket ; and once, when Lady Cheverel took her 
doll from her, because she was affectionately licking 
the paint off its face, the little minx straightway 
climbed on a chair and threw down a flower-vase 
that stood on a bracket. This was almost the only 
instance in which her anger overcame her awe of 
Lady Cheverel, who had the ascendancy always be- 
longing to kindness that never melts into caresses, 
and is severely but uniformly beneficent. 

By-and-by the happy monotony of Cheverel Manor 
was broken in upon in the way Mr Warren had 
announced. The roads through the park were cut 
up by waggons carrying loads of stone from a neigh- 
bouring quarry, the green courtyard became dusty 
with lime, and the peaceful liouse rang with the 
sound of tools. For the next ten years Sir Chris- 
topher was occupied with the architectural meta- 
morphosis of his old family mansion ; thus antici- 



192 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



l^ating, through the prompting of his individual 
taste, that general reaction from the insipid imitation 
of the Palladian style, towards a restoration of the 
Gothic, Avhich marked the close of the eighteenth 
century. This was the object he had set his heart 
on, with a singleness of determination which was 
regarded with not a little contempt by his fox-hunt- 
ing neighbours, wlio wondered greatly that a man 
with some of the best blood in England in his veins, 
should be mean enough to economise in his cellar, 
and reduce his stud to two old coach-horses and a 
hack, for the sake of riding a hobby, and playing 
the architect. Their wives did not see so much to 
blame in the matter of the cellar and stables, but 
they Avere eloquent in pity for poor Lady Cheverel, 
who had to live in no more than three rooms at 
once, and who must be distracted with noises, and 
have her constitution undermined by unhealthy 
smells. It was as bad as having a husband with 
an asthma. Why did not Sir Christopher take a 
house for her at Bath, or, at least, if he must spend 
liis time in overlooking workmen, somewhere in the 
neighbourhood of the Manor ? This pity was quite 
gratuitous, as the most plentiful pity always is ; for 
though Lady Cheverel did not share her husband's 
architectural enthusiasm, she had too rigorous a 
view of a wife's duties, and too profound a deference 
for Sir Christopher, to regard submission as a griev- 
ance. As for Sir Christopher, he was perfectly in- 
different to criticism. " An obstinate, crotchety man," 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



193 



said his neighbours. But I, wlio have seen Cheverel 
Manor, as he bequeathed it to his heirs, rather 
attribute that unswerving architectural purpose of 
his, conceived and carried out through long years 
of systematic personal exertion, to something of the 
fervour of genius, as well as inflexibihty of will ; 
and in walking through those rooms, with their 
splendid ceilings and their meagre furniture, which 
tell how all the spare money had been absorbed 
before personal comfort was thought of, I have felt 
that there dwelt in this old English baronet some 
of that sublime spirit which distinguishes art from 
luxury, and worships beauty apart from self-indul- 
gence. 

While Cheverel Manor was growing from ugliness 
into beauty, Caterina too was growing from a little 
yellow bantling into a whiter maiden, with no posi- 
tive beauty indeed, but with a certain light airy 
grace, which, with her large appealing dark eyes, 
and a voice that, in its low-toned tenderness, re- 
called the love-notes of the stock-dove, gave her a 
more than usual charm. Unlike the building, how- 
ever, Caterina's development was the result of no 
systematic or careful appliances. She grew up very 
much like the primroses, which the gardener is not 
sorry to see within his enclosure, but takes no pains 
to cultivate. Lady Cheverel taught her to read and 
write, and say her catechism ; Mr Warren, being a 
good accountant, gave her lessons in arithmetic, by 
her ladyship's desire ; and Mrs Sharp initiated her 

VOL. L N 



101 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

ill all tlio mysteries of the needle. But, for a long 
time, there was no thought of giving her any more 
elaborate education. It is very likely that to her 
(Iviiig (lay Catcrina thought the earth stood still, 
and that the sun and stars moved round it ; but 
so, for the matter of that, did Helen, and Dido, and 
Desdemona, and Juliet ; whence I hope you will not 
think my Caterina less worthy to be a heroine on 
that account. The truth is, that, with one excep- 
tion, her only talent lay in loving ; and there, it 
is probable, the most astronomical of women could 
not have surpassed her. Orphan and protegee 
though she was, this supreme talent of hers found 
plenty of exercise at Cheverel Manor, and Caterina 
had more people to love than many a small lady 
and gentleman affluent in silver mugs and blood 
relations. I think the first place in her childish 
heart was given to Sir Christopher, for little girls 
are apt to attach themselves to the finest-looking 
gentleman at hand, especially as he seldom has any- 
thing to do with discipline. Next to the Baronet 
came Dorcas, the merry rosy-cheeked damsel who 
was Mrs Sharp's lieutenant in the nursery, and thus 
played the part of the raisins in a dose of senna. It 
was a black day for Caterina when Dorcas married 
the coachman, and went, with a great sense of 
elevation in the world, to preside over a " public " 
in the noisy town of Sloppeter. A little china- 
box, bearing the motto "Though lost to sight, to 
memory dear," which Dorcas sent her as a remem- 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



195 



brance, was among Caterina's treasures ten years 
after. 

The one other exceptional talent, you ah^eady 
guess, was music. When the fact that Caterina 
had a remarkable ear for music, and a still more 
remarkable voice, attracted Lady Cheverel's notice, 
the discovery was very welcome both to her and Sir 
Christopher. Her musical education became at once 
an object of interest. Lady Cheverel devoted much 
time to it ; and the rapidity of Tina's progress sur- 
passing all hopes, an Italian singing-master was 
engaged, for several years, to spend some months 
together at Cheverel Manor. This unexpected gift 
made a great alteration in Caterina's position. After 
those first years in which little girls are petted like 
puppies and kittens, there comes a time when it 
seems less obvious what they can be good for, 
especially when, like Caterina, they give no par- 
ticular promise of cleverness or beauty ; and it is 
not surprising that in that uninteresting period 
there was no particular plan formed as to her future 
position. She could always help Mrs Sharp, sup- 
posing she were fit for nothing else, as she grew 
up ; but now, this rare gift of song endeared her 
to Lady Cheverel, who loved music above all things, 
and it associated her at once with the pleasures of 
the drawing-room. Insensibly she came to be re- 
garded as one of the flimily, and the servants began 
to understand that Miss Sarti was to be a lady after 
all. 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



"And tlio raight on't too," said Mr Bates, "for 
she hasn't the cut of a gell as must work for her 
bread ; she's as nesli an' dilicate as a paich-blossom 
— welly laike a linnet, wi' on'y joost body anoof to 
hold her voice." 

]3ut long before Tina had reached this stage of 
her history, a new era had begun for her, in the 
arrival of a younger companion than any she had 
hitherto known. When she was no more than 
seven, a ward of Sir Christopher's — a lad of fifteen, 
Maynard Gilfil by name — began to spend his vaca- 
tions at Cheverel Manor, and found there no play- 
fellow so much to his mind as Caterina. Maynard 
was an affectionate lad, who retained a propensity 
to white rabbits, pet squirrels, and guinea-pigs, 
perhaps a little beyond the age at which young 
gentlemen usually look down on such pleasures as 
puerile. He was also much given to fishing, and to 
carpentry, considered as a fine art, without any base 
view to utility. And in all these pleasures it was 
his delight to have Caterina as his companion, to 
call her little pet names, answer her wondering 
questions, and have her toddling after him as you 
may have seen a Blenheim spaniel trotting after 
a large setter. Whenever Maynard went back to 
school, there was a little scene of parting. 

" You won't forget me, Tina, before I come back 
again? I shall leave you all the whip-cord we've 
made ; and don't you let Guinea die. Come, give 
me a kiss, and promise not to forget me." 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



197 



As the years wore on, and Maynard passed from 
school to college, and from a slim lad to a stalwart 
young man, their companionship in the vacations 
necessarily took a different form, but it retained a 
brotherly and sisterly familiarity. With Maynard 
the boyish affection had insensibly grown into 
ardent love. Among all the many kinds of first 
love, that which begins in childish companionship 
is the strongest and most enduring : when passion 
comes to unite its force to long affection, love is at 
its spring-tide. And Maynard Gilfil's love was of a 
kind to make him prefer being tormented by Caterina 
to any pleasure, apart from her, which the most ben- 
evolent magician could have devised for him. It is 
the way with those tall large-limbed men, from Sam- 
son downwards. As for Tina, the little minx was 
perfectly well aware that Maynard was her slave ; 
he was the one person in the world whom she did 
as she pleased with ; and I need not tell you that 
this was a symptom of her being perfectly heart- 
whole so far as he was concerned : for a passionate 
woman's love is always overshadowed by fear. 

Maynard Gilfil did not deceive himself in his 
interpretation of Caterina's feelings, but he nursed 
the hope that some time or other she would at least 
care enough for him to accept his love. So he waited 
patiently for the day when he might venture to say, 
" Caterina, I love you ! " You see, he would have 
been content with very little, being one of those 
men who pass through life without making the 



108 



SCENI',?; OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



least claiiioiir about themselves ; tliinking neither 
the cut of his coat, nor the flavour of his soup, nor 
Ihr pixH'iso depth of a servant's bow, at all momen- 
tous. He thought — foolishly enough, as lovers will 
think — that it was a good augury for him when he 
came to be domesticated at Cheverel Manor in the 
(piality of chaplain there, and curate of a neighbour- 
ing parish ; judging falsely, from his own case, that 
habit and affection were the likeliest avenues to 
love. Sir Christopher satisfied several feelings in 
installing Maynard as chaplain in his house. He 
liked the old-fashioned dignity of that domestic ap- 
pendage ; he liked his ward's companionship ; and, 
as Maynard had some private fortune, he might take 
life easily in that agreeable home, keeping his hunter, 
and observing a mild regimen of clerical duty, until 
the Cumbermoor living should fall in, when he might 
be settled for life in the neighbourhood of the Manor. 
" With Caterina for a wife, too," Sir Christopher soon 
began to think ; for though the good Baronet was 
not at all quick to suspect what was unpleasant 
and opposed to his views of fitness, he was quick to 
see what would dovetail with his own plans ; and 
he had first guessed, and then ascertained, by direct 
inquiry, the state of Maynard's feelings. He at once 
leaped to the conclusion that Caterina was of the 
same mind, or at least would be, when she was old 
enough. But these were too early days for anything 
definite to be said or done. 

Meanwhile, new circumstances were arising, which, 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



199 



though they made no change in Sir Christopher's 
plans and prospects, converted Mr Gilfil's hopes into 
anxieties, and made it clear to him not only that 
Caterina's heart was never likely to be his, but that 
it was given entirely to another. 

Once or twice in Caterina's childhood, there had 
been another boy-visitor at the Manor, younger than 
Maynard Gilfil — a beautiful . boy with brown curls 
and splendid clothes, on whom Caterina had looked 
with shy admiration. This was Anthony Wybrow, 
the son of Sir Christopher's younger sister, and 
chosen heir of Chevercl Manor. The Baronet had 
sacrificed a large sum, and even straitened the re- 
sources by which he was to carry out his architec- 
tural schemes, for the sake of removing the entail 
from his estate, and making this boy his heir — 
moved to the step, I am sorry to say, by an im- 
placable quarrel with his elder sister ; for a power of 
forgiveness was not among Sir Christopher's virtues. 
At length, on the death of Anthony's mother, when 
he was no longer a curly -headed boy, but a tall 
young man, with a captain's commission, Cheverel 
Manor became his home too, whenever he was absent 
from his regiment. Caterina was then a little woman, 
between sixteen and seventeen, and I need not spend 
many words in explaining what you perceive to be 
the most natural thing in the world. 

There was little company kept at the Manor, and 
Captain Wybrow would have been much duller if 
Caterina had not been there. It was pleasant to 



200 



SCKNKS OK CLKKICAL LTFK. 



pay luT attiMitioiis — to Kpeak to her in i!,'entle tones, 
lo sec lici- little flutter of pleasure, tlio blush that 
just lit u[) her pale cheek, and the momentary timid 
<;-lance of her dark eyes, wlien he praised her sing- 
ing, leaning at her side over the piano. Pleasant, 
too, to cut out that chaplain with his large calves ! 
What idle man can withstand the temptation of a 
woman to fascinate, and another man to eclipse ? — 
especially when it is quite clear to himself that he 
means no mischief, and shall leave everything to 
come right again by-and-by. At the end of eighteen 
months, however, during which Captain Wybrow had 
spent much of his time at the Manor, he found that 
matters had reached a point which he had not at 
all contemplated. Gentle tones had led to tender 
words, and tender words had called forth a response 
of looks which made it impossible not to carry on 
the crescendo of love-making. To find one's self 
adored by a little, graceful, dark-eyed, sweet-singing 
woman, whom no one need despise, is an agreeable 
sensation, comparable to smoking the finest Latakia, 
and also imposes some return of tenderness as a 
duty. 

Perhaps you think that Captain Wybrow, who 
Imew that it would be ridiculous to dream of his 
marrying Caterina, must have been a reckless liber- 
tine to win her affections in this manner ! Not at 
all. He was a young man of calm passions, who 
was rarely led into any conduct of which he could 
not give a plausible account to himself; and the 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



201 



tiny fragile Caterina was a woman who touched 
the imagination and the affections rather than the 
senses. He really felt very kindly towards her, and 
would very Hkely have loved her — if he had been 
able to love any one. But nature had not endowed 
him with that capability. She had given him an 
admirable figure, the whitest of hands, the most 
delicate of nostrils, and a large amount of serene 
self-satisfaction ; but, as if to save such a delicate 
piece of work from any risk of being shattered, she 
had guarded him from the liability to a strong 
emotion. There was no list of youthful misde- 
meanours on record against him, and Sir Christopher 
and Lady Cheverel thought him the best of nephews, 
the most satisfactory of heirs, full of grateful defer- 
ence to themselves, and, above all things, guided by 
a sense of duty. Captain Wybrow always did the 
thing easiest and most agreeable to him from a 
sense of duty : he dressed expensively, because it 
was a duty he owed to his position ; from a sense of 
duty he adapted himself to Sir Christopher's inflex- 
ible will, which it would have been troublesome as 
well as useless to resist ; and, being of a delicate 
constitution, he took care of his health from a sense 
of duty. His health was the only point on wliich 
he gave anxiety to his friends ; and it was owing to 
tliis that Sir Christopher wished to see his nephew 
early married, the more so as a match after the 
Baronet's own heart appeared immediately attain- 
able;. Anthony had seen and admired Miss Assher, 



202 



SCKXES OF CLKinCAL LIFE. 



\\w only c-IiiKl of a lady who had been Sir Christo- 
])lu'i's earliest love, but who, as things will happen 
ill this world, had married another baronet instead 
of liiin. Miss Assher's father was now dead, and 
slio was in possession of a pretty estate. If, as was 
probable, she should prove susceptible to the merits 
of Anthony's person and character, nothing could 
make Sir Christopher so happy as to see a marriage 
which might be expected to secure the inheritance of 
Cheverel Manor from getting into the wrong hands. 
Anthony had already been kindly received by Lady 
Assher as the nephew of her early friend ; why 
should he not go to Bath, where she and her 
daughter were then residing, follow up the acquaint- 
ance, and win a handsome, well-born, and sufficiently 
wealthy bride ? 

Sir Christopher's wishes were communicated to 
his nephew, who at once intimated his willingness 
to comply with them — from a sense of duty. Cater- 
ina was tenderly informed by her lover of the sac- 
rifice demanded from them both ; and three days 
afterw^ards occurred the parting scene you have 
witnessed in the gallery, on the eve of Captain 
Wybrow^'s departure for Bath. 



203 



CHAPTEE V. 

The inexorable ticking of the clock is like the throb 
of pain to sensations made keen by a sickening fear. 
And so it is with the great clockwork of nature. 
Daisies and buttercups give w^ay to the brown wav- 
ing grasses, tinged with the warm red sorrel ; the 
waving grasses are swept away, and the meadows 
lie like emeralds set in the bushy hedgerows ; the 
tawny-tipped corn begins to bow with the weight 
of the full ear ; the reapers are bending amongst it, 
and it soon stands in sheaves ; then, presently, the 
patches of yellow stubble lie side by side with 
streaks of dark-red earth, which the plough is turn- 
ing up in preparation for the new -thrashed seed. 
And this passage from beauty to beauty, which to 
the happy is like the flow of a melody, measures 
for many a human heart the approach of foreseen 
anguish — seems hurrying on the moment when the 
shadow of dread will be followed up by the reality 
of despair. 

How cruelly hasty that summer of 1788 seemed 



SCENES OK CLERICAL LIFE. 



ti> ( 'atciina ! Surely the roses vanished earlier, and 
the bi'rries on the mountain-ash were more impatient 
to redden, and bring on the autumn, when she would 
be face to face with her misery, and witness Anthony 
o'iving all his gentle tones, tender words, and soft 
looks to another. 

Before the end of July, Captain Wybrow had 
written word that Lady Assher and her daughter 
were about to fly from the heat and gaiety of Bath 
to the shady quiet of their place at Farleigh, and 
that he was invited to join the party there. His 
letters implied that he was on an excellent footing 
with both the ladies, and gave no hint of a rival ; so 
that Sir Christopher was more than usually bright 
and cheerful after reading them. At length, towards 
the close of August, came the announcement that 
Captain Wybrow was an accepted lover, and after 
much complimentary and congratulatory correspon- 
dence between the two families, it was understood 
that in September Lady Assher and her daughter 
would pay a visit to Cheverel Manor, when Beat- 
rice would make the acquaintance of her future 
relatives, and all needful arrangements could be 
discussed. Captain Wybrow would remain at Far- 
leigh till then, and accompany the ladies on their 
journey. 

In the interval, every one at Cheverel Manor had 
something to do by way of preparing for the visitors. 
Sir Christopher was occupied in consultations with 
his steward and lawyer, and in giving orders to 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



205 



every one else, especially in spurring on Francesco 
to finish the saloon. Mr Gilfil had the responsibility 
of procuring a lady's horse, Miss Assher being a 
great rider. Lady Cheverel had unwonted calls to 
make and invitations to deliver. Mr Bates's turf, 
and gravel, and flower-beds were always at such a 
point of neatness and finish that nothing extraordi- 
nary could be done in the garden, except a little 
extraordinary scolding of the under -gardener, and 
this addition Mr Bates did not neglect. 

Happily for Caterina, she too had her task, to fill 
up the long dreary daytime : it was to finish a chair- 
cushion which would complete the set of embroidered 
covers for the drawing-room. Lady Cheverel's year- 
long work, and the only noteworthy bit of furniture 
in the Manor. Over this embroidery she sat with 
cold lips and a palpitating heart, thankful that this 
miserable sensation throughout the daytime seemed 
to counteract the tendency to tears which returned 
with night and solitude. She was most frightened 
wdien Sir Christopher approached her. The Baronet's 
eye was brighter and his step more elastic than ever, 
and it seemed to him that only the most leaden or 
churlish souls could be otherwise than brisk and 
exulting in a world where everything went so well. 
Dear old gentleman ! he had gone through life a 
little flushed with the power of his will, and now his 
latest plan was succeeding, and Cheverel Manor 
would be inherited by a grand-nephew, whom he 
might even yet live to see a fine young fellow with 



200 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



at least tlio down on liis chin. Why not? one is 
si ill young at sixty. 

Sir Christopher had always something playful to 
say to Caterina. 

"Now, little monkey, you must be in your best 
voice ; you're the minstrel of the Manor, you know, 
and 1)0 sure you have a pretty gown and a new 
ribbon. You must not be dressed in russet, though 
you are a singing-bird." Or perhaps, ''It is your 
turn to be courted next, Tina. But don't you learn 
any naughty proud airs. I must have Maynard let 
off easily." 

Caterina's affection for the old Baronet helped her 
to summon up a smile as he stroked her cheek and 
looked at her kindly, but that was the moment at 
which she felt it most difficult not to burst out 
crying. Lady Cheverel's conversation and presence 
were less trying ; for her ladyship felt no more than 
calm satisfaction in this family event ; and besides, 
she was further sobered by a little jealousy at Sir 
Christopher's anticipation of pleasure in seeing Lady 
Assher, enshrined in his memory as a mild- eyed 
beauty of sixteen, with whom he had exchanged 
locks before he went on his first travels. Lady 
Cheverel would have died rather than confess it, 
but she couldn't help hoping that he would be dis- 
appointed in Lady Assher, and rather ashamed of 
having called her so charming. 

Mr Gilfil watched Caterina through these days 
with mixed feelings. Pier suffering went to liis 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



207 



heart ; but, even for her sake, he was glad that a 
love which could never come to good should be no 
longer fed by false hopes ; and how could he help 
saying to himself, "Perhaps, after a while, Cater- 
ina will be tired of fretting about that cold-hearted 
puppy, and then . . 

At length the much-expected day arrived, and the 
brightest of September suns was lighting up the 
yellowing lime-trees, as about five o'clock Lady 
Assher's carriage drove under the portico. Caterina, 
seated at work in her own room, heard the rolling of 
the wheels, followed presently by the opening and 
shutting of doors, and the sound of voices in the 
corridors. Kemembering that the dinner-hour was 
six, and that Lady Cheverel had desired her to be 
in the drawing-room early, she started up to dress, 
and was delighted to find herself feeling suddenly 
brave and strong. Curiosity to see Miss Assher — 
the thought that Anthony was in the house — the 
wish not to look unattractive, were feelings that 
brought some colour to her lips, and made it easy 
to attend to her toilette. They would ask her to 
sing this evening, and she would sing well. Miss 
Assher should not think her utterly insignificant. 
So she put on her grey silk gown and her cherry- 
coloured ribbon with as much care as if she had 
been herself the betrothed ; not forgetting the pair 
of round pearl earrings which Sir Cliristoplior had 
told Lady Cheverel to give her, because Tina's little 
ears were so pretty. 



208 SCENES OF CLEUTCAT. LIFE. 

(,)uii k ;is slic liud IxH'ii, slio found Sir Christopher 
and Lady Cliovcrel in the drawing-room chatting 
w ith .Mr (J 11 111, and telling him how handsome Miss 
Assher was, but how entirely unlike her mother — 
apparently resembling her father only. 

" Aha ! " said Sir Christopher, as he turned to 
look at Caterina, ''what do you think of this, 
Maynard? Did you ever see Tina look so pretty 
before ? Why, that little grey gown has been made 
out of a bit of my lady's, hasn't it ? It doesn't take 
anything much larger than a pocket-handkerchief to 
dress the little monkey." 

Lady Cheverel, too, serenely radiant in the assur- 
ance a single glance had given her of Lady Assher's 
inferiority, smiled approval, and Caterina was in one 
of those moods of self-possession and indifference 
which come as the ebb-tide between the struggles 
of passion. She retired to the piano, and busied 
herself with arranging her music, not at all insen- 
sil)le to the pleasure of being looked at with admira- 
tion the while, and thinking that, the next time the 
door opened. Captain Wybrow would enter, and she 
would speak to him quite cheerfully. But when 
she heard him come in, and the scent of roses 
floated towards her, her heart gave one great leap. 
She knew nothing till he was pressing her hand, 
and saying, in the old easy way, ''Well, Caterina, 
how do you do ? You look quite blooming." 

She felt her cheeks reddening with anger that he 
could speak and look with such perfect nonchalance. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



209 



All ! he was too deeply in love with some one else 
to remember anything he had felt for her. But the 
next moment she was conscious of her folly ; — "as 
if he could show any feeling then ! " This conflict 
of emotions stretched into a long interval the few 
moments that elapsed before the door opened 
again, and her own attention, as well as that of all 
the rest, was absorbed by the entrance of the two 
ladies. 

The daughter was the more striking, from the 
contrast she presented to her mother, a round- 
shouldered, middle-sized woman, who had once had 
the transient pink -and -white beauty of a blonde, 
Avith ill -defined features and early embonpoint. 
Miss Assher was tall, and gracefully though sub- 
stantially formed, carrying herself with an air of 
mingled graciousness and self-confidence ; her dark- 
brown hair, untouched by powder, hanging in bushy 
curls round her face, and falling behind in long 
thick ringlets nearly to her waist. The brilliant 
carmine tint of her well-rounded cheeks, and the 
finely-cut outline of her straight nose, produced an 
impression of splendid beauty, in spite of common- 
place brown eyes, a narrow forehead, and thin lips. 
She was in mourning, and the dead black of her 
crape dress, relieved here and there by jet orna- 
ments, gave the fullest effect to her complexion, and 
to the rounded whiteness of her arms, bare from the 
elbow. The first coup doeil was dazzling, and as 
she stood looking down with a gracious smile on 

VOL. L 



'210 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



CalciiiiM, wlioni Lady Clieverel was presenting to 
Iier, the poor little thing seemed to herself to feel, 
for the first time, all the folly of her former dream. 

" We are enchanted with your place, Sir Chris- 
topher," said Lady Asslier, with a feeble • kind of 
pompousness, which she seemed to be copying from 
some one else ; " I'm sure your nephew must have 
tliought Farleigh wretchedly out of order. Poor 
Sir John was so very careless about keeping up the 
house and grounds. I often talked to him about it, 
but he said, ' Pooh, pooh ! as long as my friends find 
a good dinner and a good bottle of wine, they won't 
care about my ceilings being rather smoky.' He 
was so very hospitable, was Sir John." 

"I think the view of the house from the park, 
just after we passed the bridge, particularly fine," 
said Miss Assher, interposing rather eagerly, as if 
she feared her mother might be making infelicitous 
speeches, " and the pleasure of the first glimpse was 
all the greater because Anthony would describe 
nothing to us beforehand. He would not spoil our 
first impressions by raising false ideas. I long to 
go over the house. Sir Christopher, and learn the 
history of all yoiir architectural designs, which 
Anthony says have cost you so much time and 
study." 

" Take care how you set an old man talking about 
the past, my dear," said the Baronet ; "I hope we 
shall find something pleasanter for you to do than 
turning over my old plans and pictures. Our friend 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



211 



Mr Gilfil here has found a beautiful mare for you, 
and you can scour the country to your heart's 
content. Anthony has sent us word what a horse- 
woman you are." 

Miss Assher turned to Mr Gilfil with her most 
beaming smile, and expressed her thanks with the 
elaborate graciousness of a person who means to be 
thought charming, and is sure of success. 

"Pray do not thank me," said Mr Gilfil, 'Hill 
you have tried the mare. She has been ridden by 
Lady Sara Linter for the last two years ; but one 
lady's taste may not be like another's in horses, any 
more than in other matters." 

While this conversation was passing, Captain 
Wybrow was leaning against the mantelpiece, con- 
tenting himself with responding from under his 
indolent eyelids to the glances Miss Assher was 
constantly directing towards him as she spoke. 
" She is very much in love with him," thought 
Caterina. But she was relieved that Anthony re- 
mained passive in his attentions. She thought, too, 
that he was looking paler and more languid than 
usual. "If he didn't love her very much— if he 
sometimes thought of the past with regret, I think 
I could bear it all, and be glad to see Sir Christo- 
pher made happy." 

During dinner there was a little incident which 
confirmed these thoughts. When the sweets were 
on the table, there was a mould of jelly jur t oppo- 
site Captain Wybrow, and being inclined to take 



SC ENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



suiiu' liinisi'lf, lie lirst invited Miss Assher, who 
coloured, and said, in rather a sharper key than 
usual, " Have you not learned by this time that I 
never take jelly V" 

Don't you ? " said Captain Wybrow, w^hose per- 
ceptions were not acute enough for him to notice 
the difference of a semitone. " I should have 
thought you were fond of it. There was always 
some on the table at Farleigh, I think." 

" You don't seem to take much interest in my 
likes and dislikes." 

" I'm too much possessed by the happy thought 
that you like me," was the ex officio reply, in 
silvery tones. 

This little episode was unnoticed by every one 
but Caterina. Sir Christopher was listening with 
polite attention to Lady Assher's history of her last 
man-cook, who was first-rate at gravies, and for that 
reason pleased Sir John — he was so particular about 
his gravies, was Sir John : and so they kept the man 
six years in spite of his bad pastry. Lady Cheverel 
and Mr Gilfil were smiling at Rupert the blood- 
hound, who had pushed his great head under his 
master's arm, and was taking a survey of the dishes, 
after snuffing at the contents of the Baronet's plate. 

When the ladies were in the drawing-room again. 
Lady Assher was soon deep in a statement to Lady 
Cheverel of her views about burying people in 
woollen. 

"To be sure, you must have a woollen dress. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



213 



because it's the law, you know ; but that need hin- 
der no one from putting linen underneath. I always 
used to say, ' If Sir John died to-morrow, I would 
bury him in his shirt ; ' and I did. And let me 
advise you to do so by Sir Christopher. You never 
saw Sir John, Lady ChevereL He was a large tall 
man, with a nose just like Beatrice, and so very 
particular about his shirts." 

Miss Assher, meanwhile, had seated herself by 
Caterina, and, with that smiling affability which 
seems to say, " I am really not at all proud, though 
you might expect it of me," said — 

"Anthony tells me you sing so very beautifally. 
I hope we shall hear you this evening." 

"Oh yes," said Caterina, quietly, without smiling; 
" I always sing when I am wanted to sing." 

" I envy you such a charming talent. Do you 
know, I have no ear ; I cannot hum the smallest 
tune, and I delight in music so. Is it not unfortu- 
nate ? But I shall have quite a treat while I am 
here ; Captain Wybrow says you will give us some 
music every day." 

" I should have thought you wouldn't care about 
music if you had no ear," said Caterina, becoming 
epigrammatic by force of grave simplicity. 

" Oh, I assure you, I doat on it ; and Anthony is so 
fond of it ; it would be so delightful if I could play 
and sing to him ; though he says he likes me best 
not to sing, because it doesn't belong to his idea of 
me. What style of music do you like best ?" 



'2 1 I SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

" I don't know. 1 like all beautiful music." 
" And are you as fond of riding as of music ? " 
" No ; I never ride. I think I should be very 
frightened." 

^' Oh no ! indeed you would not, after a little 
practice. I have never been in the least timid. 1 
tliink Anthony is more afraid for me than I am for 
myself ; and since I have been riding with him, I 
have been obliged to be more careful, because he is 
so nervous about me." 

Caterina made no reply ; but she said to herself, 
" I wish she would go away and not talk to me. 
She only wants me to admire her good-nature, and 
to talk about Anthony." 

Miss Assher was thinking at the same time, 
" This Miss Sarti seems a stupid little thing. Those 
musical people often are. But she is prettier than I 
expected ; Anthony said she was not pretty." 

Happily at this moment Lady Assher called her 
daughter's attention to the embroidered cushions, 
and Miss Assher, walking to the opposite sofa, was 
soon in conversation with Lady Cheverel about 
tapestry and embroidery in general, while her 
mother, feeling herself superseded there, came and 
placed herself beside Caterina. 

" I hear you are the most beautiful singer," was 
of course the opening remark. All Italians sing 
so beautifully. I travelled in Italy with Sir John 
when we were first married, and we went to Venice, 
where they go about in gondolas, you know. You 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



215 



don't wear powder, I see. No more will Beatrice ; 
though many people think her curls would look all 
the better for powder. She has so much hair, hasn't 
she? Our last maid di"essed it much better than 
this ; but, do you know, she wore Beatrice's stock- 
ings before they went to the wash, and we couldn't 
keep her after that, could we ? " 

Caterina, accepting the question as a mere bit 
of rhetorical effect, thought it superfluous to reply, 
till Lady Assher repeated, " Could we, now ? " as if 
Tina's sanction were essential to her repose of mind. 
After a faint " No," she went on. 

" Maids are so very troublesome, and Beatrice is 
so particular, you can't imagine. I often say to her, 
'My dear, you can't have perfection.' That very 
gown she has on — to be sure, it fits her beautifully 
now — but it has been unmade and made up again 
twice. But she is like poor Sir John — he was so 
very particular about his own things, was Sir John. 
Is Lady Cheverel particular ? " 

"Rather. But Mrs Sharp has been her maid 
twenty years." 

I wish there was any chance of our keeping 
Griffin twenty years. But I am afraid we shall 
have to part with her because her health is so deli- 
cate ; and she is so obstinate, she will not take 
bitters as I want her. You look delicate, now. Let 
me recommend you to take camomile tea in a morn- 
ing, fasting. Beatrice is so strong and healthy, she 
never takes any medicine ; but if I had had twenty 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



i;irls, and llicy had been delicate, I should have 
i;ivrii thciii all camomile tea. It strengthens the 
constitution beyond anything. Now, will you pro- 
mise mo to take camomile tea?" 

" Thank you ; I'm not at all ill," said Caterina. 
I've always been pale and thin." 

Lady Assher was sure camomile tea would make 
all the difference in the world — Caterina must see 
if it wouldn't — and then went dribbling on like a 
leaky sliower-bath, until the early entrance of the 
gentlemen created a diversion, and she fastened on 
Sir Christopher, who probably began to think that, 
for poetical purposes, it would be better not to meet 
one's first love again, after a lapse of forty years. 

Captain Wybrow, of course, joined his aunt and 
Miss Assher, and Mr Gilfil tried to relieve Caterina 
from the awkwardness of sitting aloof and dumb, by 
tellin": her how a friend of his had broken his arm 
and staked his horse that morning, not at all appear- 
ing to heed that she hardly listened, and was looking 
towards the other side of the room. One of the tor- 
tures of jealousy is, that it can never turn away its 
eyes from the thing that pains it. 

By-and-by every one felt the need of a relief from 
chit-chat — Sir Christopher perhaps the most of all — 
and it was he who made the acceptable proposition — 

"Come, Tina, are we to have no music to-night 
before we sit down to cards ? Your ladyship plays 
at cards, I think?" he added, recollecting himself, 
and turning to Lady Assher. 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



217 



" Oh yes ! Poor dear Sir John would have a whist- 
table every night." 

Caterina sat down to the harpsichord at once, and 
had no sooner begun to sing than she perceived 
with delight that Captain Wybrow was gliding 
towards the harpsichord, and soon standing in the 
old place. This consciousness gave fresh strength 
to her voice ; and when she noticed that Miss Asslier 
presently followed him with that an of ostentatious 
admiration which belongs to the absence of real en- 
jo}Tnent, her closing bravura was none the worse for 
being animated by a little triumphant contempt. 

" Why, you are in better voice than ever, Caterina," 
said Captain Wybrow, when she had ended. This 
is rather different from Miss Hibbert's small piping 
that we used to be glad of at Farleigh, is it not, 
Beatrice?" 

^' Indeed it is. You are a most enviable creatm^e, 
Miss Sarti — Caterina — may I not call you Caterina ? 
for I liave heard Anthony speak of you so often, I 
seem to know you quite well. You will let me call 
you Caterina ? " 

Oh yes, every one calls me Caterina, only when 
they call me Tina." 

" Come, come, more singing, more singing, little 
monkey," Sir Christopher called out from the other 
side of the room. We have not had half enough 

yet." 

Caterina was ready enough to obey, for while she 
was singing she was queen of the room, and Miss 



21S 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



Asslior was reduced to grimacing admiration. Alas ! 
you sec what jealousy was doing in this poor young' 
soul, Caterina, who had passed her life as a little 
unohtrusivo singing - bird, nestling so fondly under 
the wings that were outstretched for her, her heart 
beating only to the peaceful rhythm of love, or 
fluttering with some easily stifled fear, had begun 
to know the fierce palpitations of triumph and 
hatred. 

When the singing was over, Sir Christopher and 
Lady Cheverel sat down to whist with Lady Asslier 
and Mr Gilfil, and Caterina placed herself at the 
Baronet's elbow, as if to watch the game, that she 
might not appear to thrust herself on the pair of 
lovers. At first she was glowing with her little 
triumph, and felt the strength of pride ; but her eye 
would steal to the opposite side of the fireplace, 
where Captain Wybrow had seated himself close 
to Miss Assher, and was leaning with his arm over 
the back of the chair, in the most lover-like position. 
Caterina began to feel a choking sensation. She 
could see, almost without looking, that he was tak- 
ing up her arm to examine her bracelet ; their heads 
were bending close together, her curls touching his 
cheek — now he was putting his lips to her hand. 
Caterina felt her cheeks burn — she could sit no 
longer. She got up, pretended to be gliding about 
in search of something, and at length slipped out of 
the room. 

Outside, she took a candle, and, hurrying along 



MK GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY. 



219 



the passages and up the stairs to her own room, 
locked the door. 

" Oh, I cannot bear it, I cannot bear it ! " the poor 
thing burst out aloud, clasping her little fingers, and 
pressing them back against her forehead, as if she 
wanted to break them. 

Then she walked hurriedly up and down the room. 
And this must go on for days and days, and I 
must see it." 

She looked about nervously for something to 
clutch. There was a muslin kerchief lying on the 
table ; she took it up and tore it into shreds as she 
walked up and down, and then pressed it into hard 
balls in her hand. 

"And Anthony," she thought, ''he can do this 
without caring for w^hat I feel. Oh, he can forget 
everything : how he used to say he loved me — how 
he used to take my hand in his as we walked — how 
he used to stand near me in the evenings for the 
sake of looking into my eyes." 

" Oh, it is cruel, it is cruel !" she burst out again 
aloud, as all those love-moments in the past returned 
upon her. Then the tears gushed forth, she threw 
herself on her knees by the bed, and sobbed bitterly. 

She did not know how long she had been there, 
till she was startled by the prayer-bell ; when, think- 
ing Lady Cheverel might perhaps send some one to 
inquire after her, she rose, and began hastily to un- 
dress, that there might be no possibility of her going 
down again. She had hardly unfastened her hair, 



220 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

and tlirowii a loose gown about her, before there 
was a kiKick at the door, and Mrs Sharp's voice 
said — " Miss Tina, my lady wants to know if you're 
ill." 

Caterina opened the door and said, " Thank you, 
dear Mrs Sharp ; I have a bad headache ; please tell 
my lady I felt it come on after singing." 

" Then, goodness me ! why aren't you in bed, in- 
stead o' standing shivering there, fit to catch your 
death ? Come, let me fasten up your hair and tuck 
you up warm." 

Oh no, thank you ; I shall really be in bed very 
soon. Good-night, dear Sharpy ; don't scold ; I will 
be good, and get into bed." 

Caterina kissed her old friend coaxingly, but Mrs 
Sharp was not to be " come over " in that way, and 
insisted on seeing her former charge in bed, taking 
away the candle which the poor child had wanted to 
keep as a companion. 

But it was impossible to lie there long with that 
beating heart ; and the little white figure was soon 
out of bed again, seeking relief in the very sense of 
chill and uncomfort. It was light enough for her to 
see about her room, for the moon, nearly at full, was 
riding high in the heavens among scattered hurry- 
ing clouds. Caterina drew aside the window-cur- 
tain, and, sitting with her forehead pressed against 
the cold pane, looked out on the wide stretch of park 
and lawn. 

How dreary the moonlight is ! robbed of all its 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



221 



tenderness and repose by the hard driving wind. 
The trees are harassed by that tossing motion, when 
they would like to be at rest; the shivering grass 
makes her quake with sympathetic cold ; and the 
willows by the pool, bent low and white under that 
invisible harshness, seem agitated and helpless like 
herself. But she loves the scenf the better for its 
sadness : there is some pity in it. It is not like 
that hard unfeeling happiness of lovers, flaunting in 
the eyes of misery. 

She set her teeth tight against the window-frame, 
and the tears fell thick and fast. She was so thank- 
ful she could cry, for the mad passion she had felt 
when her eyes were dry frightened her. If that 
dreadful feeling were to come on when Lady Chev- 
erel was present, she should never be able to con- 
tain herself. 

Then there was Sir Christopher — so good to her 
— so happy about Anthony's marriage ; and all the 
while she had these wicked feelings. 

" Oh, I cannot help it, I cannot help it ! " she said 
in a loud whisper between her sobs. " God, have 
pity upon me ! " 

In this way Tina wore out the long hours of the 
windy moonlight, till at last, with weary aching 
limbs, she lay down in bed again, and slept from 
mere exhaustion. 

While this poor little heart was being bruised with 
a weight too heavy for it. Nature was holding on her 
calm inexorable way, in unmoved and terrible beauty. 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



TIh' slais were rushing^ in their eternal courses; 
tli(> tides swelled to the level of the last expectant 
w vvd ; the snn was making brilliant day to busy- 
nations on the other side of the swift earth. The 
stream of human thought and deed was hurrying 
and broadening onward. The astronomer was at 
his telescope ; the great ships were labouring over 
the waves ; the toiling eagerness of commerce, the 
fierce spirit of revolution, were only ebbing in brief 
rest ; and sleepless statesmen were dreading the 
possible crisis of the morrow. What were our little 
Tina and her trouble in this mighty torrent, rushing 
from one awful unknown to another ? Lighter than 
the smallest centre of quivering life in the water- 
drop, hidden and uncared for as the pulse of anguish 
in the breast of the tiniest bird that has fluttered 
down to its nest with the long-sought food, and has 
found the nest torn and empty. 



223 



CHAPTEE VI. 

The next morning, when Caterina was waked from 
her heavy sleep by Martha bringing in the warm 
water, the sun was shining, the wind had abated, 
and those hours of suffering in the night seemed 
unreal and dreamlike, in spite of weary limbs and 
aching eyes. She got up and began to dress with 
a strange feeling of insensibility, as if nothing could 
make her cry again ; and she even felt a sort of 
longing to be down-stairs in the midst of company, 
that she might get rid of this benumbed condition 
by contact. 

There are few of us that are not rather ashamed 
of our sins and follies as we look out on the blessed 
morning sunlight, which comes to us like a bright- 
winged angel beckoning us to quit the old path of 
vanity that stretches its dreary length behind us ; 
and Tina, little as she knew about doctrines and 
theories, seemed to herself to have been both foolish 
and wicked yesterday. To-day she would try to be 
good ; and when she knelt down to say her short 



221 



SCENES OE CLElilCAL LIEE. 



prayrr — tlic very form slu^ liad learned by heart 
wlicii she was ten years old — slie added, 'H) God, 
lu'lp me to bear it ! " . > 

Tliat day the prayer seemed to be answered, for 
after some remarks on her pale looks at breakfast, 
(\iterina passed the morning quietly. Miss Assher 
and Captain AVybrow being out on a riding excur- 
sion. In the evening there was a dinner-party, and 
after Caterina had sung a little, Lady Cheverel, 
remembering that she was ailing, sent her to bed, 
where she soon sank into a deep sleep. Body and 
mind must renew their force to suffer as well as to 
enjoy. 

On the morrow, however, it was rainy, and every- 
one must stay in-doors ; so it was resolved that the 
guests should be taken over the house by Sir Chris- 
topher, to hear the story of the architectural alter- 
ations, the family portraits, and the family relics. 
All the party, except Mr Gilfil, were in the drawing- 
room when the proposition was made ; and when 
Miss Assher rose to go, she looked towards Captain 
Wybrow, expecting to see him rise too ; but he kept 
his seat near the fire, turning his eyes towards the 
newspaper which he had been holding unread in his 
hand. 

" Are you not coming, Anthony ? " said Lady 
Cheverel, noticing Miss Assher's look of expecta- 
tion. 

" I think not, if you'll excuse me," he answered, 
rising and opening the door ; " T feel a little chilled 



MR GILFIL S LOVE-STORY. 



225 



this morning, and I am afraid of the cold rooms and 
draughts." 

Miss Assher reddened, but said nothing, and 
passed on, Lady Cheverel accompanying her. 

Caterina was seated at work in the oriel window. 
It was the first time she and Anthony had been 
alone together, and she had thought before that he 
wished to avoid her. But now, surely, he wanted 
to speak to her — he wanted to say something 
kind. Presently he rose from his seat near the fire, 
and placed himself on the ottoman opposite to her. 

"Well, Tina, and how have you been all this 
long time?" 

Both the tone and the words were an offence to 
her ; the tone was so different from the old one, the 
words were so cold and unmeaning. She answered, 
with a little bitterness — 

" I think you needn't ask. It doesn't make much 
difference to you." 

" Is that the kindest thing you have to say to me 
after my long absence ? " 

" I don't know why you should expect me to say 
kind things." 

Captain Wybrow was silent. He wished very 
much to avoid allusions to the past or comments on 
the present. And yet he wished to be well with 
Caterina. He would have liked to caress her, make 
her presents, and have her think him very kind 
to her. But these women are plaguy perverse ! 
There's no bringing them to look rationally at any- 

VOL. I. P 



220 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



thing. At last lie said, " I hoped you would think 
all the better of me, Tina, for doing as I have done, 
instead of bearing malice towards me. I hoped you 
would see that it is the best thing for every one — 
the best for your happiness too." 

" Oh pray don't make love to Miss Assher for the 
sake of my happiness," answered Tina. 

At this moment the door opened, and Miss Assher 
entered, to fetch her reticule, which lay on the harp- 
sichord. She gave a keen glance at Caterina, whose 
face was flushed, and saying to Captain Wybrow 
with a slight sneer, " Since you are so chill I wonder 
you like to sit in the window," left the room again 
immediately. 

The lover did not appear much discomposed, but 
sat quiet a little longer, and then, seating himself on 
the music-stool, drew it near to Caterina, and, taking 
her hand, said, Come, Tina, look kindly at me, and 
let us be friends. I sliall always be your friend." 

"Thank you," said Caterina, drawing away her 
hand. "You are very generous. But pray move 
away. Miss Assher may come in again." 

"Miss Assher be hanged!" said Anthony, feeling 
the fascination of old habit returning on him in his 
proximity to Caterina. He put his arm round her 
waist, and leaned his cheek down to hers. The 
lips couldn't help meeting after that ; but the next 
moment, with heart swelling and tears rising, Caterina 
burst away from him, and rushed out of the room. 



227 



CHAPTEE VII. 

Caterina tore herself from Anthony with the des- 
perate effort of one who has just self- recollection 
enough left to be conscious that the fumes of char- 
coal will master his senses unless he bursts a way 
for himself to the fresh air ; but when she reached 
her own room, she was still too intoxicated with 
that momentary revival of old emotions, too much 
agitated by the sudden return of tenderness in her 
lover, to know whether pain or pleasure predom- 
inated. It was as if a miracle had happened in her 
little world of feeling, and made the future all vague 
— a dim morning haze of possibilities, instead of the 
sombre wintry daylight and clear rigid outline of 
painful certainty. 

She felt the need of rapid movement. She must 
walk out in spite of the rain. Happily, there was 
a thin place in the curtain of clouds which seemed 
to promise that now, about noon, the day had a 
mind to clear up. Caterina thought to herself, " I 
will walk to the Mosslands, and carry Mr Bates the 



228 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



('(inifoi-ter I have made for him, and then Lady 
Cheverel will not wonder so much at my going 
out." At the hall door she found Kupert the old 
bloodhound, stationed on the mat, witli the deter- 
mination that the first person who was sensible 
enough to take a walk that morning should have 
the honour of his approbation and society. As he 
thrust his great black and tawny head under her 
hand, and wagged his tail with vigorous eloquence, 
and reached the climax of his welcome by jumping 
up to lick her face, which was at a convenient 
licking height for him, Caterina felt quite grateful 
to the old dog for his friendliness. Animals are 
such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they 
pass no criticisms. 

The Mosslands " was a remote part of the 
grounds, encircled by the little stream issuing from 
the pool ; and certainly, for a wet day, Caterina 
could hardly have chosen a less suitable walk, for 
though the rain was abating, and presently ceased 
altogether, there was still a smart shower falling 
from the trees which arched over the greater part 
of her way. But she found just the desired relief 
from her feverish excitement in labouring along the 
wet paths with an umbrella that made her arm ache. 
This amount of exertion was to her tiny body what 
a day's hunting often was to Mr Gilfil, who at times 
had his fits of jealousy and sadness to get rid of, and 
wisely had recourse to nature's innocent opium — 
fatigue. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



229 



When Caterina reached the pretty arched wooden 
bridge which formed the only entrance to the Moss- 
lands for any but webbed feet, the sun had mastered 
the clouds, and was shining through the boughs of 
the tall elms that made a deep nest for the gardener's 
cottage — turning the raindrops into diamonds, and 
inviting the nasturtium flowers creeping over the 
porch and low-thatched roof to lift up their flame- 
coloured heads once more. The rooks were cawing 
with many-voiced monotony, apparently — by a re- 
markable approximation to human intelligence — 
finding great conversational resources in the change 
of weather. The mossy turf, studded with the broad 
blades of marsh-loving plants, told that Mr Bates's 
nest was rather damp in the best of weather ; but 
he was of opinion that a little external moisture 
would hurt no man who was not perversely neglect- 
ful of that obvious and providential antidote, rum- 
and-water. 

Caterina loved this nest. Every object in it, 
every sound that haunted it, had been familiar to 
her from the days when she had been carried 
thither on Mr Bates's arm, making little cawing 
noises to imitate the rooks, clapping her hands at 
the green frogs leaping in the moist grass, and 
fixing grave eyes on the gardener's fowls cluck- 
clucking under their pens. And now the spot looked 
prettier to her than ever ; it was so out of the way 
of Miss Assher, with her brilliant beauty, and per- 
sonal claims, and small civil remarks. She thought 



2'M) SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

Mr liatcs would not be come into his dinner yet, so 
(she would sit down and wait for liim. 

But slio was mistaken. Mr Bates was seated in 
his arm-chair, with his pocket-handkerchief thrown 
over his flice as the most ehgible mode of passing 
away those superfluous hours between meals when 
the weather drives a man indoors. Eoused by the 
furious barking of his chained bull-dog, he descried 
his little favourite approaching, and forthwith pre- 
sented himself at the doorway, looking dispropor- 
tionately tall compared with the height of his 
cottage. The bull-dog, meanwhile, unbent from the 
severity of his official demeanour, and commenced a 
friendly interchange of ideas with Kupert. 

Mr Bates's hair was now grey, but his frame was 
none. the less stalwart, and his face looked all the 
redder, making an artistic contrast with the deep 
blue of his cotton neckerchief, and of his linen apron 
twisted into a girdle round his waist. 

''\Vliy, dang my boottons. Miss Tiny," he ex- 
claimed, "hoo coom ye to coom oot dabblin' your 
fact laike a little Muscovy duck, sich a day as this ? 
Not but what ai'm delaighted to sae ye. Here 
Hesther," he called to his old humpbacked house- 
keeper, " tek the young ledy's oombrella an' spread 
it oot to dray. Coom, coom in. Miss Tiny, an' set ye 
doon by the faire an' dray yer fact, an' hev summat 
w^arm to kape ye from ketchin' coold." 

Mr Bates led the way, stooping under the door- 
places, into his small sitting-room, and, shaking the 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



231 



patchwork cushion in his arm-chair, moved it to 
within a good roasting distance of the blazing fire. 

" Thank you, uncle Bates " (Caterina kept up her 
childish epithets for her friends, and this was one of 
them) ; " not quite so close to the fire, for I am warm 
with walking." 

" Eh, but yer shoes are faine an' wet, an' ye must 
put up yer faet on the fender. Bare big fact, baint 
'em ? — aboot the saize of a good big spoon. I woonder 
ye can mek a shift to stan' on 'em. Now, what'll ye 
hev to warm yer insaide ? — a drop o' hot elder wain, 
now?" 

" No, not anything to drink, thank you ; it isn't 
very long since breakfast," said Caterina, drawing 
out the comforter from her deep pocket. Pockets 
were capacious in those days. " Look here, uncle 
Bates, here is what I came to bring you. I made it 
on purpose for you. You must wear it this winter, 
and give your red one to old Brooks." 

" Eh, Miss Tiny, this is a beauty. An' ye made 
it all wi' yer little fingers for an old feller laike 
mae ! I tek it very kaind on ye, an' I belave ye 
I'll wear it, and be prood on't too. These sthraipes, 
blue an' wliaite, now, they mek it uncommon 
pritty." 

Yes, that will suit your complexion, you know, 
better than the old scarlet one. I know Mrs Sharp 
will be more in love with you than ever when she 
sees you in the new one." 

" My complexion, ye little roogue ! ye'ro a laughin' 



232 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

at me. l^ut talkin' o' complexions, what a beautiful 
colour tlie bride as is to be has on her cheeks ! 
Dang my boottons ! she looks faine and handsome o' 
hossback — sits as upraight as a dart, wi' a figure like 
a statty ! Mistln^ess Sharp has promised to put me 
bohaind one o' the doors when the ladies are comin' 
doon to dinner, so as I may sae the young un i' full 
dress, wi' all her curls an' that. Misthress Sharp 
says she's almost beautifuller nor my ledy was 
when she was yoong ; an' I think ye'll noot faind 
many i' the counthry as'll coom up to that." 

" Yes, Miss Assher is very handsome," said 
Caterina, rather faintly, feeling the sense of her 
own insignificance returning at this picture of the 
impression Miss Assher made on others. 

"Well, an' I hope she's good too, an'll mek a 
good naice to Sir Cristhifer an' my ledy. Misthress 
Griffin, the maid, says as she's rether tatchy and 
find-fautin' aboot her cloothes, laike. But she's 
yoong — she's yoong ; that'll wear off when she's got 
a hoosband, an' children, an' summat else to think 
on. Sir Cristhifer's fain an' delaighted, I can see. 
He says to me th' other mornin', says he, 'Well, 
Bates, what do you think of your young misthress 
as is to be?' An' I says, 'Whay, yer honour, I 
think she's as fain a lass as iver I set eyes on ; an' 
I wish the Captain luck in a fain family, an' your 
honour laife an' health to see't.' Mr Warren says as 
the masther's all for forrardin' the weddin', an' it'll 
very laike be afore the autumn's oot." 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



233 



As Mr Bates ran on, Caterina felt something like 
a painful contraction at her heart. Yes," she said, 
rising, " I dare say it will. Sir Christopher is very 
anxious for it. But I must go, uncle Bates ; Lady 
Cheverel will be wanting me, and it is your dinner- 
time." 

Nay, my dinner doon't sinnify a bit ; but I 
moosn't kaep ye if my ledy wants ye. Though I 
hevn't thanked ye half anoof for the comfiter — the 
T\Tapraskil, as they call't. My feckins, it's a beauty. 
But ye look very whaite and sadly. Miss Tiny ; I 
doubt ye're poorly ; an' this walking i' th' wet isn't 
good for ye." 

Oh yes, it is indeed," said Caterina, hastening 
out, and taking up her umbrella from the kitchen 
floor. " I must really go now ; so good-bye." 

She tripped off, calling Rupert, while the good 
gardener, his hands thrust deep in his pockets, stood 
looking after her and shaking his head with rather 
a melancholy air. 

" She gets moor nesh and dillicat than iver," he 
said, half to himself and half to Hester. " I shouldn't 
woonder if she fades away laike them cyclamens as 
I transplanted. She puts me i' maind on 'em some- 
how, hangin' on their little thin stalks, so whaite an' 
tinder." 

The poor little thing made her way back, no 
longer hungering for the cold moist air as a counter- 
active of inward excitement, but with a chill at her 
heart which made the outward chill only depressing. 



231 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



'rii(> i;()l(l('n sunlight beamed tlirougli the dripping 
boiiglis liko a Shochinah, or visible divine presence, 
and tlio birds were chirping and trilling their new 
aiitnnmal songs so sweetly, it seemed as if their 
throats, as well as the air, were all the clearer for 
tlie rain ; but Caterina moved through all this joy 
and beauty like a poor wounded leveret painfully 
dragging its little body through the sweet clover- 
tufts — for it, sweet in vain. Mr Bates's words 
about Sir Christopher's joy. Miss Assher's beauty, 
and the nearness of the wedding, had come upon 
her like the pressure of a cold hand, rousing her 
from confused dozing to a perception of hard, 
familiar realities. It is so with emotional natures, 
whose thoughts are no more than the fleeting 
shadows cast by feeling : to them words are facts, 
and even when known to be false, have a mastery 
over their smiles and tears. Caterina entered her 
own room again, with no other change from her 
former state of despondency and wretchedness than 
an additional sense of injury from Anthony. His 
behaviour towards her in the morning was a new 
wrong. To snatch a caress when she justly claimed 
an expression of penitence, of regret, of sympathy, 
was to make more light of her than ever. 



235 



CHAPTER VIIL 

That evening Miss Assher seemed to carry herself 
with unusual haughtiness, and was coldly observant 
of Caterina. There was unmistakably thunder in 
the air. Captain Wybrow appeared to take the 
matter very easily, and was inclined to brave it 
out by paying more than ordinary attention to 
Caterina. Mr Gilfil had induced her to play a 
game at draughts with him. Lady Assher being- 
seated at picquet with Sir Christopher, and Miss 
Assher in determined conversation with Lady 
Cheverel. Anthony, thus left as an odd unit, 
sauntered up to Caterina's chair, and leaned be- 
hind her, watching the game. Tina, with all the 
remembrances of the morning thick upon her, felt 
her cheeks becoming more and more crimson, and at 
last said impatiently, " I wish you woiild go away." 

This happened directly under the view of Miss 
Assher, who saw Caterina's reddening cheeks, saw 
that she said something impatiently, and that Cap- 
tain Wybrow moved away in consequence. There 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



was another person, too, who had noticed this 
incident with strong interest, and who was more- 
over aware that Miss Assher not only saw, but 
keenly observed w^hat was passing. That other 
person was Mr Gilfil, and he drew some painful con- 
clusions which heightened his anxiety for Caterina. 

The next morning, in spite of the fine weather, 
Miss Assher declined riding, and Lady Cheverel, 
perceiving that there was something wrong between 
the lovers, took care that they should be left to- 
gether in the drawing-room. Miss Assher, seated 
on the sofa near the fire, was busy with some fancy- 
w^ork, in which she seemed bent on making great 
progress this morning. Captain Wybrow sat oppo- 
site with a newspaper in his hand, from which he 
obligingly read extracts with an elaborately easy 
air, wilfully unconscious of the contemptuous silence 
with which she pursued her filigree work. At 
length he put down the paper, which he could no 
longer pretend not to have exhausted, and Miss 
Assher then said — 

" You seem to be on very intimate terms with 
Miss Sarti." 

''With Tina? oh yes; she has always been the 
pet of the house, you know. We have been quite 
brother and sister together." 

" Sisters don't generally colour so very deeply 
when their brothers approach them." 

" Does she colour ? I never noticed it. But she's 
a timid little thing." 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



237 



" It would be much better if you would not be 
so hypocritical, Captain Wybrow. I am confident 
there has been some flirtation between you. Miss 
Sarti, in her position, would never speak to you 
with the petulance she did last night, if you had 
not given her some kind of claim on you." 

" My dear Beatrice, now do be reasonable ; do 
ask yourself what earthly probability there is that 
I should think of flirting with poor little Tina. Is 
there anything about her to attract that sort of 
attention? She is more child than woman. One 
thinks of her as a little girl to be petted and played 
with." 

Pray, what were you playing at with her yester- 
day morning, when I came in unexpectedly, and her 
cheeks were flushed, and her hands trembling ? " 

Yesterday morning? — Oh, I remember. You 
know I always tease her about Gilfil, who is over 
head and ears in love with her ; and she is angry at 
that, — perhaps, because she likes him. They were 
old playfellows years before I came here, and Sir 
Christopher has set his heart on their marrying." 

" Captain Wybrow, you are very false. It had 
nothing to do with Mr Gilfil that she coloured last 
night when you leaned over her chair. You might 
just as well be candid. If your own mind is not 
made up, pray do no violence to yourself. I am 
quite ready to give way to Miss Sarti's superior 
attractions. Understand that, so far as I am con- 
cerned, you are perfectly at liberty. I decline any 



238 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



sliari' in tlio affection of a man who forfeits my re. 
si^ect by duplicity." 

In sayinf^ this Miss Assher rose, and was sweep- 
ing- haughtily out of the room, when Captain Wybrow 
placed himself before her, and took her hand. 

^' Dear, dear Beatrice, be patient ; do not judge 
me so rashly. Sit down again, sweet," he added in 
a pleading voice, pressing both her hands between 
his, and leading her back to the sofa, where he sat 
down beside her. Miss Assher was not unwilling to 
be led back or to listen, but she retained her cold 
and haughty expression. 

"Can you not trust me, Beatrice? Can you not 
believe me, although there may be things I am un- 
able to explain ? " 

" Why should there be anything you are unable to 
explain ? An honourable man will not be placed in 
circumstances which he cannot explain to the woman 
he seeks to make his wife. He will not ask her to 
believe that he acts properly ; he will let her know 
that he does so. Let me go, sir." 

She attempted to rise, but he passed his hand 
round her waist and detained her. 

" Now, Beatrice dear," he said imploringly, can 
you not understand that there are things a man 
doesn't like to talk about — secrets that he must 
keep for the sake of others, and not for his own 
sake? Everything that relates to myself you may 
ask me, but do not ask me to tell other people's 
secrets. Don't you understand me?" 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



239 



" Oh yes," said Miss Assher scornfully, " I under- 
stand. Whenever you make love to a woman — that 
is her secret, which you are bound to keep for her. 
But it is folly to be talking in this way, Captain 
Wybrow. It is very plain that there is some re- 
lation more than friendship between you and Miss 
Sarti. Since you cannot explain that relation, there 
is no more to be said between us." 

Confound it, Beatrice ! you'll drive me mad. 
Can a fellow help a girl's falling in love with him ? 
Such things are always happening, but men don't 
talk of them. These fancies will spring up without 
the slightest foundation, especially when a woman 
sees few people ; they die out again when there is 
no encouragement. If you could like me, you ought 
not to be surprised that other people can ; you ought 
to think the better of them for it." 

You mean to say, then, that Miss Sarti is in love 
with you, without your ever having made love to her." 

" Do not press me to say such things, dearest. It 
is enough that you know I love you — that I am 
devoted to you. You naughty queen, you, you 
know there is no chance for any one else where you 
are. You are only tormenting me, to prove your 
power over me. But don't be too cruel ; for you 
know they say I have another heart-disease besides 
love, and these scenes bring on terrible palpitations.'' 

" But I must have an answer to this one question," 
said Miss Assher, a little softened : has there been, 
or is there, any love on your side towards Miss Sarti ? 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



I liave iiotliin-j,- to do with her feelings, but I have a 
right to know yours." 

" I like Tina very much who would not like such 
a little simple thing ? You would not wish me not 
to like her ? But love — that is a very different affair. 
One has a brotherly affection for such a woman as 
Tina ; but it is another sort of woman that one 
loves." 

These last words were made doubly significant by 
a look of tenderness, and a kiss imprinted on the 
hand Captain Wybrow held in his. Miss Assher 
was conquered. It was so far from probable that 
Anthony should love that pale insignificant little 
thing — so highly probable that he should adore the 
beautiful Miss Assher. On the whole, it was rather 
gratifying that other women should be languishing 
for her handsome lover ; he really was an exquisite 
creature. Poor Miss Sarti ! Well, she would get 
over it. 

Captain Wybrow saw his advantage. " Come, 
sweet love," he continued, "let us talk no more 
about unpleasant things. You will keep Tina's 
secret, and be very kind to her — won't you ? — for 
my sake. But you will ride out now? See what 
a glorious day it is for riding. Let me order the 
horses. I'm terribly in want of the air. Come, 
give me one forgiving kiss, and say you will go." 

Miss Assher complied with the double request, 
and then went to equip herself for the ride, while 
her lover walked to the stables. 



241 



CHAPTEE IX. 

Meanwhile Mr Gilfil, who had a heavy weight on 
his mind, had watched for the moment when, the 
two elder ladies ha\dng driven out, Caterina would 
probably be alone in Lady Cheverel's sitting-room. 
He went up and knocked at the door. 

" Come in," said the sweet mellow voice, always 
thrilling to him as the sound of rippling water to the 
thirsty. 

He entered and found Caterina standing in some 
confusion, as if she liad been startled from a reverie. 
She felt relieved when she saw it was Maynard, but, 
the next moment, felt a little pettish that he should 
have come to interrupt and frighten her. 

" Oh, it is you, Maynard ! Do you want Lady 
Cheverel?" 

" No, Caterina," he answered gravely ; I want 
you. I have something very particular to say to you. 
Will you let me sit down witli you for half an hoin- ? " 

" Yes, dear old preacher," said Caterina, sitting 
down with an air of weariness ; what is it?" 

VOL. I. Q 



212 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



i\Ir Gilfil placed himself opposite to her, and said, 
" I liope you will not be hurt, Caterina, by what I am 
going to say to you. I do not speak from any other 
feelings than real affection and anxiety for you. I 
put everything else out of the question. You know 
^•ou are more to me than all the world ; but I will not 
thrust before you a feeling which you are unable to 
return. I speak to you as a brother — the old May- 
nard that used to scold you for getting your fishing- 
line tangled ten years ago. You will not believe 
that I have any mean, selfish motive in mentioning 
things that are painful to you ? " 

" No 5 I know you are very good," said Caterina, 
abstractedly. 

" From what I saw yesterday evening," Mr Gilfil 
went on, hesitating and colouring slightly, ''I am led 
to fear — pray forgive me if I am wrong, Caterina — 
that you — that Captain Wybrow is base enough still 
to trifle with your feelings, that he still allows him- 
self to behave to you as no man ought who is the 
declared lover of another woman." 

"What do you mean, Maynard?" said Caterina, 
with anger flashing from her eyes. " Do you mean 
that I let him make love to me ? What right have 
you to think that of me ? What do you mean that 
you saw yesterday evening ? " 

" Do not be angry, Caterina. I don't suspect you 
of doing wrong. I only suspect that heartless puppy 
of behaving so as to keep awake feelings in you that 
not only destroy your own peace of mind, but may 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



243 



lead to very bad consequences with regard to others. 
I want to warn you that Miss Assher has her eyes 
open on what passes between you and Captain 
Wybrow, and I feel sure she is getting jealous 
of you. Pray be very careful, Caterina, and try 
to behave with politeness and indifference to him. 
You must see by this time that he is not worth the 
feeling you have given him. He's more disturbed 
at his pulse beating one too many in a minute, than 
at all the misery he has caused you by his foolish 
trifling." 

"You ought not to speak so of him, Maynard," 
said Caterina, passionately. " He is not what you 
think. He did care for me ; he did love me ; only 
he wanted to do what his uncle wished." 

" Oh to be sure ! I know it is only from the most 
virtuous motives that he does what is convenient to 
himself." 

Mr Gilfil paused. He felt that he was getting 
irritated, and defeating his own object. Presently 
he continued in a calm and affectionate tone. 

" I will say no more about what I think of him, 
Caterina. But whether he loved you or not, his 
position now with Miss Assher is such that any love 
you may cherish for him can bring nothing but 
misery. God knows, I don't expect you to leave 
off loving him at a moment's notice. Time and 
absence, and trying to do what is right, are the only 
cures. If it were not that Sir Christopher and Lady 
Cheverel would be displeased and puzzled at your 



211 



SCENES OF CLKKICAL LIFE. 



wisliiiii;- lo Iciive home just now, I would beg you to 
})ay a visit to my sister. She and her husband are 
«;()od creatures, and would make their house a home 
to you. But I could not urge the thing just now 
without giving a special reason ; and what is most 
of all to be dreaded is the raising of any suspicion in 
Sir Christopher's mind of what has happened in the 
past, or of your present feelings. You think so too, 
don't you, Tina?" 

Mr Gilfil paused again, but Caterina said nothing. 
She was looking away from him, out of the window, and 
her eyes were filling with tears. He rose, and, advanc- 
ing a little towards her, held out his hand and said — 
Forgive me, Caterina, for intruding on your feel- 
ings in this way. I was so afraid you might not be 
aware how Miss Assher watched you. Kemember, 
I intreat you, that the peace of the whole family 
depends on your power of governing yourself. Only 
say you forgive me before I go." 

"Dear, good Maynard," she said, stretching out 
her little hand, and taking two of his large fingers 
in her grasp, while her tears flowed fast ; " I am very 
cross to you. But my heart is breaking. I don't 
know what I do. Good-bye." 

He stooped down, kissed the little hand, and then 
left the room. 

" The cursed scoundrel ! " he muttered between \ 
his teeth, as he closed the door behind him. " If it 
were not for Sir Christopher, I should like to pound 
him into paste to poison puppies like himself ! " 



245 



CHAPTEE X. 

That evening Captain Wybrow, returning from a 
long ride with Miss Assher, went np to his dressing- 
room, and seated himself with an air of considerable 
lassitude before his mirror. The reflection there 
presented of his exquisite self was certainly paler 
and more worn than usual, and might excuse the 
anxiety with which he first felt his pulse, and then 
laid his hand on his heart. 

" It's a devil of a position this for a man to be in," 
was the train of his thought, as he kept his eyes 
fixed on the glass, while he leaned back in his chair, 
and crossed his hands behind his head 5 between 
two jealous women, and both of them as ready to 
take fire as tinder. And in my state of health, too ! 
I should be glad enough to run away from the whole 
affair, and go off to some lotos-eating place or other 
where there are no women, or only women who arc 
too sleepy to be jealous. Ilere am I, doing nothing 
to please myself, trying to do the best thing for 
everybody else, and all the comfort I get is to have 



210 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



si lot at mo from women's eyes, and venom spirted 
at mo from women's tongues. If Beatrice takes an- 
other jealous fit into lier head — and it's likely enough, 
Tina is so unmanageable — I don't know what storm 
she may raise. And any hitch in this marriage, 
especially of that sort, might be a fatal business for 
the old gentleman. I wouldn't have such a blow 
fiiU upon him for a great deal. Besides, a man must 
be married some time in his life, and I could hardly 
do better than marry Beatrice. She's an uncom- 
monly fine woman, and I'm really very fond of her ; 
and as I shall let her have her own way, her temper 
won't signify much. I wish the wedding was over 
and done with, for this fuss doesn't suit me at all. 
I haven't been half so well lately. That scene 
about Tina this morning quite upset me. Poor 
little Tina ! What a little simpleton it was, to set 
her heart on me in that way ! But she ought to 
see how impossible it is that things should be dif- 
ferent. If she would but understand how kindly I 
feel towards her, and make up her mind to look on 
me as a friend ; — but that is what one never can get 
a woman to do. Beatrice is very good-natured ; I'm 
sure she would be kind to the little thing. It would 
be a great comfort if Tina would take to Gilfil, if 
it were only in anger against me. He'd make her 
a capital husband, and I should like to see the little 
grasshopper happy. If I had been in a different 
position, I would certainly have married her myself; 
but that was out of the question with my responsi- 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



247 



bilities to Sir Christopher. I think a little persua- 
sion from my uncle would bring her to accept Gilfil ; 
I know she would never be able to oppose my uncle's 
wishes. And if they were once married, she's such 
a loving little thing, she would soon be billing 
and cooing with him as if she had never known 
me. It would certainly be the best thing for her 
happiness if that marriage were hastened. Heigho ! 
Those are lucky fellows that have no women fall- 
ing in love with them. It's a confounded respon- 
sibility." 

At this point in his meditations he turned his 
head a little, so as to get a three-quarter view of 
his face. Clearly it was the " dono infelice delta 
hellezza " that laid these onerous duties upon him — 
an idea which naturally suggested that he should 
ring for his valet. 

For the next few days, however, there was such a 
cessation of threatening symptoms as to allay the 
anxiety both of Captain Wybrow and Mr Gilfil. All 
earthly things have their lull : even on nights when 
the most unappeasable wind is raging, there will be 
a moment of stillness before it crashes among the 
boughs again, and storms against the windows, and 
howls like a thousand lost demons through the key- 
holes. 

Miss Assher appeared to be in the highest good- 
humour ; Captain Wybrow was more assiduous than 
usual, and was very circumspect in his behaviour to 
Caterina, on whom Miss Assher bestowed unwonted 



248 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



attentions. Tlie weather was brilliant ; there were 
riding excursions in the mornings and dinner-parties 
in the evenings. Consultations in the library be- 
tween Sir Christopher and Lady Assher seemed to 
be leading to a satisfactory result ; and it was under- 
stood that this visit at Cheverel Manor would ter- 
minate in another fortnight, when the preparations 
for the wedding would be carried forward with all 
despatch at Farleigh. The Baronet seemed every 
day more radiant. Accustomed to view people who 
entered into his plans by the pleasant light which 
his own strong will and bright hopefulness were 
always casting on the future, he saw nothing but 
personal charms and promising domestic qualities in 
Miss Assher, whose quickness of eye and taste in 
externals formed a real ground of sympathy between 
her and Sir Christopher. Lady Cheverel's enthusi- 
asm never rose above the temperate mark of calm 
satisfaction, and, having quite her share of the criti- 
cal acumen which characterises the mutual estimates 
of the fair sex, she had a more moderate opinion of 
Miss Assher's qualities. She suspected that the fair 
Beatrice had a sharp and imperious temper ; and 
being herself, on principle and by habitual self-com- 
mand, the most deferential of wives, she noticed with 
disapproval Miss Assher's occasional air of authority 
towards Captain Wybrow. A proud woman who has 
learned to submit, carries all her pride to the rein- 
forcement of her submission, and looks down with 
severe superiority on all feminine assumption as 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



249 



"unbecoming." Lady Clieverel, however, confined 
her criticisms to the privacy of her own thoughts, 
and, with a reticence which I fear may seem incred- 
ible, did not use them as a means of disturbing her 
husband's complacency. 

And Caterina? How did she pass these sunny 
autumn days, in which the skies seemed to be smil- 
ing on the family gladness ? To her the change in 
Miss Assher's manner was unaccountable. Those 
compassionate attentions, those smiling condescen- 
sions, were torture to Caterina, who was constantly 
tempted to repulse them with anger. She thought, 
Perhaps Anthony has told her to be kind to poor 
Tina." This was an insult. He ought to have 
known that the mere presence of Miss Assher was 
painful to her, that Miss Assher's smiles scorched 
her, that Miss Assher's kind words were like poison 
stings inflaming her to madness. And he — Anthony 
— he was evidently repenting of the tenderness he 
had been betrayed into that morning in the draw- 
ing-room. He was cold and distant and civil to 
her, to ward off Beatrice's suspicions, and Beatrice 
could be so gracious now, because she was sure of 
Anthony's entire devotion. Well ! and so it ought 
to be — and she ought not to wish it otherwise. And 
yet — oh, he ivas cruel to her. She could never have 
behaved so to him. To make her love him so — to 
speak such tender words — to give her such caresses, 
and then to behave as if such things had never been. 
He had given her the poison that seemed so sweet 



2r)() SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

^vllil(» she was drinking it, and now it was in lier 
blood, and slie was helpless. 

With this tempest pent up in her bosom, the poor 
cliild went np to her room every night, and there it 
all burst forth. There, with loud whispers and sobs, 
restlessly pacing up and down, lying on the hard 
floor, courting cold and weariness, she told to the 
pitiful listening night the anguish which she could 
pour into no mortal ear. But always sleep came at 
last, and always in the morning the reactive calm 
that enabled her to live through the day. 

It is amazing how long a young frame will go on 
battling with this sort of secret wretchedness, and 
yet show no traces of the conflict for any but sym- 
pathetic eyes. The very delicacy of Caterina's usual 
appearance, her natural paleness and habitually quiet 
mouse-like ways, made any symptoms of fatigue and 
suffering less noticeable. And her singing — the one 
thing in which she ceased to be passive, and became 
prominent — lost none of its energy. She herself 
sometimes wondered how it was that, whether she 
felt sad or angry, crushed with the sense of Anthony's 
indifference, or burning with impatience under Miss 
Assher's attentions, it was always a relief to her to 
sing. Those full deep notes she sent forth seemed 
to be lifting the pain from her heart — seemed to be 
carrying away the madness from her brain. 

Thus Lady Cheverel noticed no change in Cater- 
ina, and it was only Mr Gilfil who discerned with 
anxiety the feverish spot that sometimes rose on her 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



251 



cheek, the deepening violet tint under her eyes, and 
the strange absent glance, the unhealthy glitter of 
the beautiful eyes themselves. 

But those agitated nights were producing a more 
fatal effect than was represented by these slight 
outward changes. 



252 



CHAPTER XL 

The folli)wiiig Sunday, the morning being rainy, it 
was determined that the family should not go to 
Cumbermoor Church as usual, but that Mr Gilfil, 
who had only an afternoon service at his curacy, 
should conduct the morning service in the chapel. 

Just before the appointed hour of eleven, Caterina 
came down into the drawing-room, looking so un- 
usually ill as to call forth an anxious inquiry from 
Lady Cheverel, who, on learning that she had a 
severe headache, insisted that she should not at- 
tend service, and at once packed her up comfortably 
on a sofa near the fire, putting a volume of Til- 
lotson's Sermons into her hands — as appropriate 
reading, if Caterina should feel equal to that means 
of edification. 

Excellent medicine for the mind are the good 
Archbishop's sermons, but a medicine, unhappily, 
not suited to Tina's case. She sat with the book 
open on her knees, her dark eyes fixed vacantly on 
the portrait of that handsome Lady Cheverel, wife 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



253 



of the notable Sir Anthony. She gazed at the 
picture without thinking of it, and the fair blonde 
dame seemed to look down on her with that benig- 
nant unconcern, that mild wonder, with which happy 
self-possessed women are apt to look down on their 
agitated and weaker sisters. 

Caterina was thinking of the near future — of the 
wedding that was so soon to come — of all she would 
have to live through in the next months. 

I wish I could be very ill, and die before then," 
she thought. " When people get very ill, they don't 
mind about things. Poor Patty Eichards looked so 
happy when she was in a decline. She didn't seem 
to care any more about her lover that she was en- 
gaged to be married to, and she liked the smell of 
the flowers so, that I used to take her. Oh, if I 
could but like anything — if I could but think about 
anything else ! If these dreadful feelings would go 
away, I wouldn't mind about not being happy. I 
wouldn't want anything — and I could do what would 
please Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel. But 
when that rage and anger comes into me, I don't 
know what to do. I don't feel the ground under 
me ; I only feel my head and heart beating, and it 
seems as if I must do something dreadful. Oh ! I 
wonder if any one ever felt like me before. I must 
be very wicked. But God will have pity on me ; He 
knows all I have to bear." 

In this way the time wore on till Tina heard the 
sound of voices along the passage, and became con- 



251 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



si-ious tliat the volume of Tillotson had slipped on 
tlu' lloor. She had only just picked it up, and seen 
witli alaiiu that the pages were bent, when Lady 
Assher, Beatrice, and Captain Wybrow entered, all 
with that brisk and cheerful air which a sermon is 
often observed to produce when it is quite finished. 

Lady Assher at once came and seated herself by 
Caterina. Her ladyship had been considerably re- 
freshed by a doze, and was in great force for mono- 
logue. 

Well, my dear Miss Sarti, and how do you feel 
now? — a little better, I see. I thought you would 
be, sitting quietly here. These headaches, now, 
are all from weakness. You must not over-exert 
yourself, and you must take bitters. I used to 
have just the same sort of headaches when I was 
your age, and old Dr Samson used to say to my 
mother, 'Madam, what your daughter suffers from 
is weakness.' He was such a curious old man, was 
Dr Samson. But I wish you could have heard the 
sermon this morning. Such an excellent sermon ! 
It was about the ten virgins : five of them were 
foolish, and five were clever, you know ; and Mr 
Gilfil explained all that. What a very pleasant 
young man he is ! so very quiet and agreeable, and 
such a good hand at whist. I wish we had him at 
Farleigh. Sir John would have liked him beyond 
anything ; he is so good-tempered at cards, and he 
was such a man for cards, was Sir John. And our 
rector is a very irritable man ; he can't bear to lose 



MR GTLFIL'S love-story. 



255 



his money at cards. I don't tliink a clergyman 
ought to mind abont losing his money ; do yon ? — 
do yon now ? " 

" Oh pray, Lady Assher," interposed Beatrice, 
in her usual tone of superiority, "do not weary 
poor Caterina with such uninteresting questions. 
Your head seems very bad still, dear," she con- 
tinued, in a condoling tone, to Caterina ; "do take 
my vinaigrette, and keep it in your pocket. It will 
perhaps refresh you now and then." 

" No, thank you," answered Caterina ; "I will not 
take it away from you." 

" Indeed, dear, I never use it ; you must take it," 
Miss Assher persisted, holding it close to Tina's 
hand. Tina coloured deeply, pushed the vinaigrette 
away with some impatience, and said, " Thank you, 
I never use those things. I don't like vinaigrettes." 

Miss Assher returned the vinaigrette to her pocket 
in surprise and haughty silence, and Captain Wybrow, 
who had looked on in some alarm, said hastily, "See! 
it is quite bright out of doors now. There is time 
for a walk before luncheon. Come, Beatrice, put on 
your hat and cloak, and let us have half an hour's 
walk on the gravel." 

"Yes, do, my dear," said Lady Assher, "and I 
will go and see if Sir Cln-istopher is having his 
walk in the gallery." 

As soon as the door had closed behind the two 
ladies, Captain Wybrow, standing with his back 
to the fire, turned towards Caterina, and said in a 



250 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



tone of cai-iK'st n^inonstniuce, ''My dear Caterina, 
let me !)('«;■ of you to exercise more control over 
your Ircliii^s ; you are really rude to Miss Asslier, 
and I can Ke(^ tliat slie is quite hurt. Consider bow 
strange your behaviour must appear to ber. She 
will wonder what can be the cause of it. Come, 
dear Tina," he added, approaching her, and attempt- 
ing to take her hand ; " for your own sake let me 
entreat you to receive her attentions politely. She 
really feels very kindly towards you, and I should 
be so happy to see you friends." 

Caterina was already in such a state of diseased 
susceptibility that the most innocent words from 
Captain Wybrow would have been irritating to her, 
as the whirr of the most delicate wing will afflict a 
nervous patient. But this tone of benevolent remon- 
strance was intolerable. He had inflicted a great 
and unrepented injury on her, and now he assumed 
an air of benevolence towards her. This was a new 
outrage. His profession of goodwill was insolence. 

Caterina snatched away her hand and said indig- 
nantly, " Leave me to myself, Captain Wybrow ! I 
do not disturb you." 

"Caterina, why will you be so violent — so unjust to 
me ? It is for you that I feel anxious. Miss Assher 
has already noticed how strange your behaviour is 
both to her and me, and it puts me into a very diffi- 
cuIg position. What can I say to her?" 

" Say ? " Caterina burst forth with intense bitter- 
ness, rising, and moving towards the door ; " say 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



257 



that I am a poor silly girl, and have fallen in love 
with yon, and am jealous of her ; but that you have 
never had any feeling but pity for me — you have 
never behaved with anything more than friendliness 
to me. Tell her that, and she will think all the 
better of you." 

Tina uttered this as the bitterest sarcasm her 
ideas would furnish her with, not having the faintest 
suspicion that the sarcasm derived any of its bitter- 
ness from truth. Underneath all her sense of wrong, 
which was rather instinctive than reflective — under- 
neath all the madness of her jealousy, and her un- 
governable impulses of resentment and vindictive- 
ness — underneath all this scorching passion there 
were still left some hidden crystal dews of trust, of 
self-reproof, of belief that Anthony was trying to do 
the right. Love had not all gone to feed the fires 
of hatred. Tina still trusted that Anthony felt more 
for her than he seemed to feel ; she was still far from 
suspecting him of a wrong which a woman resents 
even more than inconstancy. And she threw out 
this taunt simply as the most intense expression 
she could find for the anger of the moment. 

As she stood nearly in the middle of the room, 
her little body trembling under the shock of passions 
too strong for it, her very lips pale, and her e^^es 
gleaming, the door opened, and Miss Assher ap- 
peared, tall, blooming, and splendid, in her walking 
costume. As she entered, her face wore the smile 
appropriate to the exits and entrances of a young 
VOL. I. R 



258 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



lady wlio feels that lier presence is an interesting 
fad ; but the next moment she looked at Caterina 
with grave surprise, and then threw a glance of 
angry suspicion at Captain Wybrow, who wore an 
air of weariness and vexation. 

" Perhaps you are too much engaged to walk out, 
Captain Wybrow? I will go alone." 

"No, no, I am coming," he answered, hurrying 
towards her, and leading her out of the room ; leav- 
ing poor Caterina to feel all the reaction of shame 
and self-reproach after her outburst of passion. 



259 



CHAPTER XII. 

" Pray, what is likely to be the next scene in the 
drama between you and Miss Sarti ? " said Miss 
Assher to Captain Wybrow as soon as they were 
out on the gravel. " It would be agreeable to have 
some idea of what is coming." 

Captain Wybrow was silent. He felt out of 
humour, wearied, annoyed. There come moments 
when one almost determines never again to oppose 
anything but dead silence to an angry woman. 

Now then, confound it," he said to himself, " I'm 
going to be battered on the other flank." He looked 
resolutely at the horizon, with something more like 
a frown on his face than Beatrice had ever seen 
there. 

After a pause of two or three minutes, she con- 
tinued in a still haughtier tone, I suppose you are 
aware. Captain Wybrow, that I expect an explana- 
tion of what I have just seen." 

I have no explanation, my dear Beatrice," he 
answered at last, making a strong effort over him- 



200 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



sell" except what I have already given yon. I 
liopod yon wonld never recnr to the snbject." 

" Yonr explanation, however, is very far from 
satisfactory. I can only sa}^ that the airs Miss Sarti 
tliiiiks herself entitled to pnt on towards yon, are 
(|Tiite incompatible with yonr position as regards me. 
And her behavionr to me is most insulting. I shall 
certainly not stay in the house under such circum- 
stances, and mamma must state the reasons to Sir 
Christopher." 

" Beatrice," said Captain Wybrow, his irritation 
giving way to alarm, " I beseech you to be patient, 
and exercise your good feelings in this affair. It is 
very painful, I know, but I am sure you would be 
grieved to injure poor Caterina — to bring down my 
uncle's anger upon her. Consider what a poor little 
dependent thing she is." 

" It is very adroit of you to make these evasions, 
but do not suppose that they deceive me. Miss 
Sarti would never dare to behave to you as she does, 
if you had not flirted with her, or made love to her. 
I suppose she considers your engagement to me a 
breach of faith to her. I am much obliged to you, 
certainly, for making me Miss Sarti's rival. You 
have told me a falsehood, Captain Wybrow." 

" Beatrice, I solemnly declare to you that Caterina 
is nothing more to me than a girl I naturally feel 
kindly to — as a favourite of my uncle's, and a nice 
little thing enough. I should be glad to see her 
married to Gilfil to-morrow 5 that's a good proof that 



MR GlLFIL'S LOVE-STORY. 



261 



I'm not in love with her, I should think. As to the 
past, I may have shown her little attentions, which 
she has exaggerated and misinterpreted. What man 
is not liable to that sort of thing ? " 

But what can she found her behaviour on ? What 
had she been saying to you this morning to make 
her tremble and turn pale in that way ? " 

" Oh, I don't know. I just said something about 
her behaving peevishly. With that Italian blood of 
hers, there's no knowing how she may take what 
one says. She's a fierce little thing, though she 
seems so quiet generally." 

" But she ought to be made to know how unbe- 
coming and indelicate her conduct is. For my part, 
I wonder Lady Cheverel has not noticed her short 
answers and the airs she puts on." 

" Let me beg of you, Beatrice, not to hint any- 
thing of the kind to Lady Cheverel. You must have 
observed how strict my aunt is. It never enters her 
head that a girl can be in love with a man who has 
not made her an offer." 

" Well, I shall let Miss Sarti know myself that I 
have observed her conduct. It will be only a charity 
to her." 

" Nay, dear, that will be doing nothing but 
harm. Caterina's temper is peculiar. The best 
thing you can do will be to leave her to herself 
as much as possible. It will all wear off. I've 
no doubt she'll be married to Gilfil before long. 
Girls' fancies are easily diverted from one object to 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



aiiotluT. liyJovo, what a rate my heart is gallop- 
in ;it ! 'J'hcso confounded palpitations get worse 
instead of better." 

Thus ended tlie conversation, so far as it concerned 
Caterina, not without leaving a distinct resolution in 
Captain Wybrow's mind — a resolution carried into 
effect the next day, when he was in the library with 
Sir Christopher for the purpose of discussing some 
arrangements about the approaching marriage. 

" By the by," he said carelessly, when the business 
came to a pause, and he was sauntering round the 
room with his hands in his coat-pockets, surveying 
the backs of the books that lined the walls, " when 
is the w^edding between Gilfil and Caterina to come 
off, sir? I've a fellow-feeling for a poor devil so 
many fathoms deep in love as Maynard. Why 
shouldn't their marriage happen as soon as ours? 
I suppose he has come to an understanding wdth 
Tina?" 

"Why," said Sir Christopher, "I did think of 
letting the thing be until old Cricliley died; he can't 
hold out very long, poor fellow ; and then Maynard 
might have entered into matrimony and the Rectory 
both at once. But, after all, that really is no good 
reason for waiting. There is no need for them to 
leave the Manor when they are married. The little 
monkey is quite old enough. It would be pretty to 
see her a matron, with a baby about the size of a 
kitten in her arms." 

" I think that system of waiting is always bad. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



263 



And if I can further any settlement you would like 
to make on Caterina, I shall be delighted to carry 
out your wishes." 

" My dear boy, that's very good of you ; but 
Maynard will have enough ; and from what I know 
of him — and I know him well — I think he would 
rather provide for Caterina himself. However, now 
you have put this matter into my head, I begin to 
blame myself for not having thought of it before. 
I've been so wrapt up in Beatrice and you, you 
rascal, that I had really forgotten poor Maynard. 
And he's older than you — it's high time he was 
settled in life as a family man." 

Sir Christopher paused, took snuff in a meditative 
manner, and presently said, more to himself than to 
Anthony, who was humming a tune at the far end 
of the room, " Yes, yes. It will be a capital plan to 
finish off all our family business at once." 

Eiding out with Miss Assher the same morning, 
Captain Wybrow mentioned to her incidentally, that 
Sir Christopher was anxious to bring about the 
wedding between Gilfil and Caterina as soon as 
possible, and that he, for his part, should do all he 
could to further the affair. It would be the best 
thing in the world for Tina, in whose welfare he was 
really interested. 

With Sir Christopher there was never any long 
interval between purpose and execution. He made 
up his mind promptly, and he acted promptly. On 
rising from luncheon, he said to Mr Gilfil, " Come 



2G-4 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

w ith iiic into the libriiiy, Maynard. I want to have 
a word witli you." 

.Maynaixl, my boy," ho began, as soon as they 
wore seated, tapping his snuff-box, and looking radi- 
ant at the idea of the unexpected pleasure he was 
about to give, " why shouldn't we have two happy 
couples instead of one, before the autumn is over, 
eh?" 

" Eh ? " he repeated, after a moment's pause, 
lengthening out the monosyllable, taking a slow 
pinch, and looking up at Maynard with a sly 
smile. 

I'm not quite sure that I understand you, sir," 
answered Mr Gilfil, who felt annoyed at the con- 
sciousness that he was turning pale. 

" Not understand me, you rogue ? You know 
very well whose happiness lies nearest to my heart 
after Anthony's. You know you let me into your 
secrets long ago, so there's no confession to make. 
Tina's quite old enough to be a grave little wife 
now ; and though the Kectory's not ready for you, 
that's no matter. My lady and I shall feel all the 
more comfortable for having you with us. We 
should miss our little singing-bird if we lost her 
all at once." 

Mr Gilfil felt himself in a painfully difficult posi- 
tion. He dreaded that Sir Christopher should sur- 
mise or discover the true state of Caterina's feelings, 
and yet he was obliged to make those feelings the 
ground of his reply. 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



265 



My dear sir," he at last said with some effort, 
you will not suppose that I am not alive to your 
goodness — -that I am not grateful for your fatherly 
interest in my happiness ; but I fear that Caterina's 
feelings towards me are not such as to warrant the 
hope that she would accept a proposal of marriage 
fi'om me." 

" Have you ever asked her?" 

" No, sir. But we often know these things too 
well without asking." 

" Pooh, pooh ! the little monkey must love you. 
Why, you were her first playfellow ; and I remember 
she used to cry if you cut your finger. Besides, she 
has always silently admitted that you were her lover. 
You know I have always spoken of you to her in 
that light. I took it for granted you had settled 
the business between yourselves ; so did Anthony. 
Anthony thinks she's in love with you, and he has 
young eyes, which are apt enough to see clearly in 
these matters. He was talking to me about it this 
morning, and pleased me very much by the friendly 
interest he showed in you and Tina." 

The blood — more than was wanted — rushed back 
to Mr Gilfil's face ; he set his teeth and clenched 
his hands in the effort to repress a burst of indigna- 
tion. Sir Christopher noticed the flush, but thought 
it indicated the fluctuation of hope and fear about 
Caterina. He went on — 

You're too modest by half, Maynard. A fellow 
who can take a five-barred gate as you can, ought 



200 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



not to be so faint-hearted. If you can't speak to lier 
yourself, leave me to talk to her." 

" Sir Christopher," said poor Maynard earnestly, 

I shall really feel it the greatest kindness you can 
possibly show me not to mention this subject to 
Caterina at present. I think such a proposal, made 
prematurely, might only alienate her from me." 

Sir Christopher was getting a little displeased at 
this contradiction. His tone became a little sharper 
as he said, " Have you any grounds to state for this 
opinion, beyond your general notion that Tina is not 
enough in love with you ? " 

" I can state none beyond my own very strong 
impression that she does not love me well enough 
to marry me." 

Then I think that ground is worth nothing at all. 
I am tolerably correct in my judgment of people ; 
and if I am not very much deceived in Tina, she 
looks forward to nothing else but to your being her 
husband. Leave me to manage the matter as I 
think best. You may rely on me that I shall do no 
harm to your cause, Maynard." 

Mr Gilfil, afraid to say more, yet wretched in the 
prospect of what might result from Sir Christopher's 
determination, quitted the library in a state of 
mingled indignation against Captain Wybrow, and 
distress for himself and Caterina. What would she 
think of him ? She might suppose that he had insti- 
gated or sanctioned Sir Christopher's proceeding. 
He should perhaps not have an opportunity of speak- 



MR gilfil's love-story. 267 

ing to her on the subject in time ; he would write 
her a note, and carry it up to her room after the 
dressing-bell had rung. No ; that would agitate her, 
and unfit her for appearing at dinner, and passing 
the evening calmly. He would defer it till bed-time. 
After prayers, he contrived to lead her back to the draw- 
ing-room, and to put a letter in her hand. She carried 
it up to her own room, wondering, and there read — 

Dear Caterina, — Do not suspect for a moment 
that anything Sir Christopher may say to you about 
our marriage has been prompted b}^ me. I have 
done all I dare do to dissuade him from urging the 
subject, and have only been prevented from speak- 
ing more strongly by the dread of provoking ques- 
tions which I could not answer without causing you 
fresh misery. I write this, both to prepare you for 
anything Sir Christopher may say, and to assure 
you — but I hope you already believe it — that your 
feelings are sacred to me. I would rather part with 
the dearest hope of my life than be the means of 
adding to your trouble. 

"It is Captain Wybrow who has prompted Sir 
Christopher to take up the subject at this moment. 
I tell you this, to save you from hearing it suddenly 
when you are with Sir Christopher. You see now 
what sort of stuff that dastard's heart is made of. 
Trust in me always, dearest Caterina, as — whatever 
may come — your faithful friend and brother, 

"Maynard Gilfil." 



2C)S SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

Caterina \\as at first too terribly stung by tlie 
^^•or(ls about Captain Wybrow to think of the diffi- 
culty which threatened her — to think either of what 
Sir Christopher would say to her, or of what she 
could say in reply. Bitter sense of injury, fierce 
resentment, left no room for fear. With the poisoned 
garment upon him, the victim writhes under the 
torture — he has no thought of the coming death. 

Anthony could do this ! — Of this there could be 
no explanation but the coolest contempt for her 
feelings, the basest sacrifice of all the consideration 
and tenderness he owed her to the ease of his posi- 
tion with Miss Assher. No. It was worse than 
that : it was deliberate, gratuitous cruelty. He 
wanted to show her how he despised her ; he 
wanted to make her feel her folly in having ever 
believed that he loved her. 

The last crystal drops of trust and tenderness, 
she thought, were dried up ; all was parched, fiery 
hatred. Now she need no longer check her resent- 
ment by the fear of doing him an injustice ; he had 
trifled with her, as Maynard had said ; he had been 
reckless of her 5 and now he was base and cruel. 
She had cause enough for her bitterness and anger ; 
they were not so wicked as they had seemed to her. 

As these thoughts were hurrying after each other 
like so many sharp throbs of fevered pain, she shed 
no tear. She paced restlessly to and fro, as her 
habit was — her hands clenched, her eyes gleaming 
fiercely and wandering uneasily, as if in search of 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



269 



something on which she might throw herself Hke a, 
tigress. 

" If I could speak to him," she whispered, 
" and tell him I hate him, I despise him, I loathe 
him ! " 

Suddenly, as if a new thought had struck her, she 
drew a key from her pocket, and unlocking an inlaid 
desk where she stored up her keepsakes, took from 
it a small miniature. It was in a very slight gold 
frame, with a ring to it, as if intended to be worn 
on a chain ; and under the glass at the back were 
two locks of hair, one dark and the other auburn, 
arranged in a fantastic knot. It was Anthony's 
secret present to her a year ago — a copy he had 
had made specially for her. For the last month she 
had not taken it from its hiding-place : there was 
no need to heighten the vividness of the past. But 
now she clutched it fiercely, and dashed it across 
the room against the bare hearthstone. 

Will she crush it under her feet, and grind it 
under her high-heeled shoe, till every trace of those 
false cruel features is gone ? 

Ah, no ! She rushed across the room ; but when 
she saw the little treasure she had cherished so 
fondly, so often smothered with kisses, so often laid 
under her pillow, and remembered with the first 
return of consciousness in the morning — when she 
saw this one visible relic of the too happy past lying 
with the glass shivered, the hair fallen out, the thin 
ivory cracked, there was a revulsion of the over- 



270 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



str.iiiuMl fccliiiii; : relenting came, and slie burst into 
tears. 

liOok at her stooping down to gather up her 
treasure, searching for the liair and replacing it, 
and then mournfully examining the crack that dis- 
figures the once-loved image. There is no glass 
now to guard either the hair or the portrait ; but 
see how carefully she wraps delicate paper round 
it, and locks it up again in its old place. Poor 
child ! God send the relenting may always come 
before the worst irrevocable deed ! 

This action had quieted her, and she sat down to 
read Maynard's letter again. She read it two or 
three times without seeming to take in the sense ; 
her apprehension was dulled by the passion of the 
last hour, and she found it difficult to call up the 
ideas suggested by the words. At last she began 
to have a distinct conception of the impending in- 
terview with Sir Christopher. The idea of displeas- 
ing the Baronet, of whom every one at the Manor 
stood in awe, frightened her so much that she 
thought it would be impossible to resist his wish. 
He believed that she loved Maynard ; he had always 
spoken as if he were quite sure of it. How could 
she tell him he was deceived — and what if he were 
to ask her whether she loved anybody else? To 
have Sir Christopher looking angrily at her, was 
more than she could bear, even in imagination. He 
had always been so good to her ! Then she began 
to think of the pain she might give him, and the 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



271 



more selfish distress of fear gave way to the distress 
of affection. Unselfish tears began to flow, and 
sorrowful gratitude to Sir Clrristopher helped to 
awaken her sensibility to Mr Gilfil's tenderness and 
generosity. 

" Dear, good Maynard ! — what a poor return I 
make him ! If I could but have loved him instead 
— but I can never love or care for anything again. 
My heart is broken." 



CHAPTEE XIII. 



The next morning the dreaded moment came. 
Caterina, stupefied by the suffering of the previous 
night, with that dull mental aching which follows 
on acute anguish, was in Lady Cheverel's sitting- 
room, copying out some charity lists, when her lady- 
ship came in, and said — 

" Tina, Sir Christopher wants you ; go down into 
the library." 

She went down trembling. As soon as she en- 
tered, Sir Christopher, who was seated near his 
writing-table, said, " Now, little monkey, come and 
sit down by me ; I have something to tell you." 

Caterina took a footstool, and seated herself on it 
at the Baronet's feet. It was her habit to sit on 
these low stools, and in this way she could hide her 
w face better. She put her little arm round his leg, 
and leaned her cheek against his knee. 

" Why, you seem out of spirits this morning, 
Tina. What's the matter, eh ? " 

Nothing, Padroncello ; only my head is bad." 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STOEY. 



273 



" Poor monkey ! Well, now, wouldn't it do the 
head good if I were to promise you a good husband, 
and smart little wedding -gowns, and by-and-by a 
house of your own, where you would be a little 
mistress, and Padroncello would come and see you 
sometimes ? " 

" Oh no, no ! I shouldn't like ever to be married. 
Let me always stay with you ! " 

" Pooh, pooh, little simpleton. I shall get old 
and tiresome, and there will be Anthony's children 
putting your nose out of joint. You will want some 
one to love you best of all, and you must have chil- 
dren of your own to love. I can't have you wither- 
ing away into an old maid. I hate old maids : they 
make me dismal to look at them. I never see Sharp 
without shuddering. My little black-eyed monkey 
was never meant for anything so ugly. And there's 
Maynard Gilfil the best man in the county, worth 
his weight in gold, heavy as he is ; he loves you 
better than his eyes. And you love him too, you 
silly monkey, whatever you may say about not 
being married." 

" No, no, dear Padroncello, do not say so ; I could 
not marry him." 

" Why not, you foolish child ? You don't know 
your own mind. Why, it is plain to everybody that 
you love him. My lady has all along said she was 
sure you loved him — she has seen what little 
princess airs you put on to him ; and Anthony too, 
he thinks you are in love with Gilfil. Come, what 

VOL. T. S 



27i 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



li;is made yon take it into your lioad that you 
wouldn't like to marry liim?" 

(.aterina was now sobbing too deeply to make any 
answer. Sir Christopher patted her on the back and 
said, Come, come ; why, Tina, you are not well 
this morning. Go and rest, little one. You will 
see things in quite another light when you are well. 
Think over what I have said, and remember there 
is nothing, after Anthony's marriage, that I have 
set my heart on so much as seeing you and May- 
nard settled for life. I must have no whims and 
follies — no nonsense." This was said with a slight 
severity ; but he presently added, in a soothing 
tone, " There, there, stop crying, and be a good 
little monkey. Go and lie down and get to sleep." 

Caterina slipped from the stool on to her knees, 
took the old Baronet's hand, covered it with tears 
and kisses, and then ran out of the room. 

Before the evening. Captain Wybrow had heard 
from his uncle the result of the interview with 
Caterina. He thought, ''If I could have a long 
quiet talk with her, I could perhaps persuade her 
to look more reasonably at things. But there's no 
speaking to her in the house without being inter- 
rupted, and I can hardly see her anywhere else 
without Beatrice's finding it out." At last he deter- 
mined to make it a matter of confidence with Miss 
Assher — to tell her that he wished to talk to Caterina 
quietly for the sake of bringing her to a calmer state 
of mind, and persuade her to listen to Gilfil's affec- 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



275 



tion. He was very much, pleased with this judicious 
and candid plan, and in the course of the evening 
he had arranged with himself the time and place of 
meeting, and had communicated his purpose to Miss 
Assher, who gave her entire approval. Anthony, 
she thought, would do well to speak plainly and 
seriously to Miss Sarti. He was really very patient 
and kind to her, considering how she behaved. 

Tina had kept her room all that day, and had been 
carefully tended as an invalid, Sir Christopher having 
told her ladyship how matters stood. This tendance 
was so irksome to Caterina, she felt so uneasy under 
attentions and kindness that were based on a miscon- 
ception, that she exerted herself to appear at break- 
fast the next morning, and declared herself well, 
though head and heart were throbbing. To be 
confined in her own room was intolerable ; it was 
wretched enough to be looked at and spoken to, 
but it was more wretched to be left alone. She 
was frightened at her own sensations : she was 
frightened at the imperious vividness with which 
pictures of the past and future thrust themselves on 
her imagination. And there was another feeling, 
too, which made her want to be down -stairs and 
moving about. Perhaps she might have an oppor- 
tunity of speaking to Captain Wybrow alone — of 
speaking those words of hatred and scorn that 
bm-ned on her tongue. That opportunity offered 
itself in a very unexpected manner. 

Lady Cheverel having sent Caterina out of the 



27G 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



<li;iwinf^-room to fetch some patterns of embroidery 
from her sitting-room, Captain Wybrow presently 
walked out after her, and met her as she was re- 
turning down-stairs. 

Caterina," he said, laying his hand on her arm as 
she was hurrying on without looking at him, " will 
you meet me in the Rookery at twelve o'clock ? I 
must speak to you, and we shall be in privacy there. 
I cannot speak to you in the house." 

To his surprise, there was a flash of pleasure across 
her face ; she answered shortly and decidedly, " Yes," 
then snatched her arm away from him, and passed 
down-stairs. 

Miss Assher was this morning busy winding silks, 
being bent on emulating Lady Cheverel's embroidery, 
and Lady Assher chose the passive amusement of 
holding the skeins. Lady Cheverel had now all her 
W'Orking apparatus about her, and Caterina, thinking 
she was not wanted, went away and sat down to the 
harpsichord in the sitting-room. It seemed as if 
playing massive chords — bringing out volumes of 
sound, would be the easiest way of passing the long 
feverish moments before twelve o'clock. Handel's 
'Messiah' stood open on the desk, at the chorus, 
" All we like sheep," and Caterina threw herself at 
once into the impetuous intricacies of that magnifi- 
cent fugue. In her happiest moments she could 
never have played it so well ; for now all the 
passion that made her misery was hurled by a con- 
vulsive effort into her music, just as pain gives new 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



277 



force to the clutch of the sinking wrestler, and as 
terror gives far-sounding intensity to the shriek of 
the feeble. 

But at half-past eleven she was interrupted by Lady 
Cheverel, who said, " Tina, go down, will you, and 
hold Miss Assher's silks for her. Lady Assher and I 
have decided on having our drive before luncheon." 

Caterina went down, wondering how she should 
escape from the drawing-room in time to be in the 
Rookery at twelve. Nothing should prevent her 
from going ; nothing should rob her of this one 
precious moment — perhaps the last — when she 
could speak out the thoughts that were in her. 
After that, she would be passive ; she would bear 
anything. 

But she had scarcely sat down with a skein of 
yellow silk on her hands, when Miss Assher said, 
graciously — 

" I know you have an engagement with Captain 
Wybrow this morning. You must not let me detain 
you beyond the time." 

So he has been talking to her about me," thought 
Caterina. Her hands began to tremble as she held 
the skein. 

Miss Assher continued, in the same gracious tone : 
" It is tedious work holding these skeins. I am sure 
I am very much obliged to you." 

" No, you are not obliged to me," said Caterina, 
completely mastered by her irritation ; " I have only 
done it because Lady Cheverel told me." 



278 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



The moment was come when Miss Assher could 
no long'or suppress her long latent desh^e to " let 
Miss Sarti know tlie impropriety of her conduct." 
Witli the malicious anger that assumes the tone of 
compassion, she said — 

Miss Sarti, I am really sorry for you, that you 
are not able to control yourself better. This giving 
way to unwarrantable feelings is lowering you — it is 
indeed." 

" What unwarrantable feelings?" said Caterina, let- 
ting her hands fall, and fixing her great dark eyes 
steadily on Miss Assher. 

" It is quite unnecessary for me to say more. You 
must be conscious what I mean. Only summon a 
sense of duty to your aid. You are paining Captain 
Wybrow extremely by your want of self-control." 

" Did he tell you I pained him ? " 

" Yes, indeed, he did. He is very much hurt that you 
should behave to me as if you had a sort of enmity 
towards me. He would like you to make a friend of 
me. I assure you we both feel very kindly towards 
you, and are sorry you should cherish such feelings." 

" He is very good," said Caterina, bitterly. " What 
feelings did he say I cherished ? " 

This bitter tone increased Miss Assher's irritation. 
There was still a lurking suspicion in her mind, 
tliough she would not admit it to herself, that Cap- 
tain Wybrow had told her a falsehood about his 
conduct and feelings towards Caterina. It was this 
suspicion, more even than the anger of the moment. 



MR GILFIL's' love-story. 



279 



which urged her to say something that would test 
the truth of his statement. That she would be 
humiliating Caterina at the same time was only an 
additional temptation. 

" These are things I do not like to talk of, Miss 
Sarti. I cannot even understand how a woman can 
indulge a passion for a man who has never given her 
the least ground for it, as Captain Wybrow assures 
me is the case." 

"He told you that, did he?" said Caterina, in 
clear low tones, her lips turning white as she rose 
from her chair. 

" Yes, indeed, he did. He was bound to tell it me 
after your strange behaviour." 

Caterina said nothing, but turned round suddenly 
and left the room. 

See how she rushes noiselessly, like a pale meteor, 
along the passages and up the gallery stairs ! Those 
gleaming eyes, those bloodless lips, that swift silent 
tread, make her look like the incarnation of a fierce 
purpose, rather than a woman. The mid-day sun is 
shining on the armour in the gallery, making mimic 
suns on bossed sword-hilts and the angles of polished 
breastplates. Yes, there are sharp weapons in the 
gallery. There is a dagger in that cabinet ; she 
knows it well. And as a dragon-fly wheels in its 
flight to alight for an instant on a leaf, she darts to 
the cabinet, takes out the dagger, and thrusts it into 
her pocket. In tliree minutes more she is out, in 
hat and cloak, on the gravel-walk, hurrying along 



280 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



towards tlio thick shades of the distant Rookery. 
iSlio threads the windings of the plantations, not 
feeling the golden leaves that rain upon her, not 
feeling the earth beneath her feet. Her hand is in 
lier pocket, clenching the handle of the dagger, which 
she holds half out of its sheath. 

She lias reached the Rookery, and is under the 
gloom of the interlacing boughs. Her heart throbs 
as if it would burst her bosom — as if every next leap 
must be its last. Wait, wait, heart ! — till she has 
done this one deed. He will be there — he will be 
before her in a moment. He will come towards her 
with that false smile, thinking she does not know 
his baseness — she will plunge that dagger into his 
heart. 

Poor child ! poor child ! she who used to cry to 
have the fish put back into the water — who never 
willingly killed the smallest living thing — dreams 
now, in the madness of her passion, that she can kill 
the man whose very voice unnerves her. 

But what is that lying among the dank leaves on 
the path three yards before her? 

Good God ! it is he — lying motionless — his hat 
fallen off. He is ill, then — he has fainted. Her 
hand lets go the dagger, and she rushes towards 
him. His eyes are fixed ; he does not see her. She 
sinks down on her knees, takes the dear head in her 
arms, and kisses the cold forehead. 

" Anthony, Anthony ! speak to me — it is Tina — 
speak to me ! God, he is dead ! " 



281 



CHAPTEE XIV. 



Yes, Maynard," said Sir Christopher, chatting with 
Mr Gilfil in the library, "it really is a remarkable 
thing that I never in my life laid a plan, and failed 
to carry it out. I lay my plans well, and I never 
swerve from them — that's it. A strong will is the 
only magic. And next to striking out one's plans, 
the pleasantest thing in the world is to see them 
well accomplished. This year, now, will be the 
happiest of my life, all but the year '53, when I 
came into possession of the Manor, and married 
Henrietta. The last touch is given to the old 
house ; Anthony's marriage — the thing I had near- 
est my heart — is settled to my entire satisfaction ; 
and by-and-by you will be buying a little wedding- 
ring for Tina's finger. Don't shake your head in 
that forlorn way; — when I make prophecies they 
generally come to pass. But there's a quarter after 
twelve striking. I must be riding to the High Ash to 
meet Markham about felling some timber. My old 
oaks will have to groan for this wedding, but " 



282 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

Tho door burst open, and Caterina, ghastly and 
panting, licr eyes distended with terror, rushed in, 
threw her arms round Sir Christopher's neck, and 
gasping out — " Anthony . . . the Kookery . . . 
dead ... in the Eookery," fell fainting on the 
floor. 

In a moment Sir Christopher was out of the room, 
and Mr Gilfil was bending to raise Caterina in his 
arms. As he lifted her from the ground he felt 
something hard and heavy in her pocket. What 
could it be ? The weight of it would be enough to 
hurt her as she lay. He carried her to the sofa, put 
his hand in her pocket, and drew forth the dagger. 

Maynard shuddered. Did she mean to kill herself, 
then, or ... or ... a horrible suspicion 
forced itself upon him. "Dead — in the Kookery." 
He hated himself for the thought that prompted him 
to draw the dagger from its sheath. No ! there was 
no trace of blood, and he was ready to kiss the good 
steel for its innocence. He thrust the weapon into 
liis own pocket ; he would restore it as soon as pos- 
sible to its well-known place in the gallery. Yet, 
why had Caterina taken this dagger ? What was it 
tliat had happened in the Eookery ? Was it only a 
delirious vision of hers ? 

He was afraid to ring — afraid to summon any one 
to Caterina's assistance. What might she not say 
when she awoke from this fainting-fit? She might 
be raving. He could not leave her, and yet he felt 
as if he were guilty for not following Sir Christopher 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



283 



to see what was the truth. It took but a moment 
to think and feel all this, but that moment seemed 
such a long agony to him that he began to reproach 
himself for letting it pass without seeking some 
means of reviving Caterina. Happily the decanter 
of water on Sir Christopher's table was untouched. 
He would at least try the effect of throwing that 
water over her. She might revive without his need- 
ing to call any one else. 

Meanwhile Sir Christopher was hurrying at his 
utmost speed towards the Kookery ; his face, so 
lately bright and confident, now agitated by a vague 
dread. The deep alarmed bark of Eupert, who ran 
by his side, had struck the ear of Mr Bates, then 
on his way homeward, as something unwonted, and, 
hastening in the direction of the sound, he met the 
Baronet just as he was approaching the entrance of 
the Rookery. Sir Christopher's look was enough. 
Mr Bates said nothing, but hurried along by his 
side, while Rupert dashed forward among the dead 
leaves with his nose to the ground. They had 
scarcely lost sight of him a minute when a change 
in the tone of his bark told them that he had found 
something, and in another instant he was leaping 
back over one of the large planted mounds. They 
turned aside to ascend the mound, Rupert leading 
them ; the tumultuous cawing of the rooks, the 
very rustling of the leaves, as their feet plunged 
among them, falling like an evil omen on the 
Baronet's ear. 



2SI SCENES OF CLEIITCAL LIFE. 

'V\\oy liiid reached the summit of the mound, and 
had l)(\o-nn to descend. Sir Christopher saw some- 
thiiii;- purple down on the path below among the 
yellow leaves. Knpert was already beside it, but 
Sir C^hristopher could not move faster. A tremor 
had taken hold of the firm limbs. Rupert came 
back and licked the trembling hand, as if to say 
" Courage ! " and then was down again snuffing the 
body. Yes, it was a body . . . Anthony's body. 
There was the white hand with its diamond ring 
chitching the dark leaves. His eyes were half open, 
but did not heed the gleam of sunlight that darted 
itself directly on them from between the boughs. 

Still he might only have fainted ; it might only 
be a fit. Sir Christopher knelt down, unfastened 
the cravat, unfastened the waistcoat, and laid his 
hand on the heart. It might be syncope ; it might 
not — it could not be death. No ! that thought must 
be kept far off. 

" Go, Bates, get help ; we'll carry him to your 
cottage. Send some one to the house to tell Mr 
Gilfil and Warren. Bid them send off for Doctor 
Hart, and break it to my lady and Miss Assher that 
Anthony is ill." 

Mr Bates hastened away, and the Baronet was 
left alone kneeling beside the body. The young 
and supple limbs, the rounded cheeks, the delicate 
ripe lips, the smooth white hands, were lying cold 
and rigid ; and the aged face was bending over them 
in silent anguish ; the aged deep-veined hands were 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



285 



seeking with tremulous inquiring touches for some 
symptom that life was not irrevocably gone. 

Rupert was there too, waiting and watching ; lick- 
ing first the dead and then the living hands ; then 
running off on Mr Bates's track as if he would fol- 
low and hasten his return, but in a moment turning 
back again, unable to quit the scene of his master's 
sorrow. 



286 



CHAPTEK XV. 

It is a wonderful moment, the first time we stand 
by one who has fainted, and witness the fresh birth 
of consciousness spreading itself over the blank 
features, like the rising sunlight on the alpine sum- 
mits that lay ghastly and dead under the leaden 
twilight. A slight shudder, and the frost-bound 
eyes recover their liquid light ; for an instant they 
show the inward semi-consciousness of an infant's ; 
then, with a little start, they open wider and begin 
to look ; the present is visible, but only as a strange 
writing, and the interpreter Memory is not yet 
there. 

Mr Gilfil felt a trembling joy as this change passed 
over Caterina's face. He bent over her, rubbing her 
chill hands, and looking at her with tender pity 
as her dark eyes opened on him wonderingly. He 
thought there might be some wine in the dining- 
room close by. He left the room, and Caterina's 
eyes turned towards the window — towards Sir 



MR GILFIL'S LOVE-STORY. 



287 



Christopher's chair. There was the link at which 
the chain of consciousness had snapped, and the 
events of the morning were beginning to recur 
dimly like a half-remembered dream, when Maynard 
returned with some wine. He raised her, and she 
drank it ; but still she was silent, seeming lost in 
the attempt to recover the past, when the door 
opened, and Mr Warren appeared with looks that 
announced terrible tidings. Mr Gilfil, dreading lest 
he should tell them in Caterina's presence, hurried 
towards him with his finger on his lips, and drew 
him away into the dining-room on the opposite side 
of the passage. 

Caterina, revived by the stimulant, was now re- 
covering the full consciousness of the scene in the 
Kookery. Anthony was lying there dead ; she had 
left him to tell Sir Christopher; she must go and 
see what they were doing with him ; perhaps he 
was not really dead — only in a trance ; people did 
fall into trances sometimes. While Mr Gilfil was 
telling Warren how it would be best to break the 
news to Lady Cheverel and Miss Assher, anxious 
himself to return to Caterina, the poor child had 
made her way feebly to the great entrance -door, 
which stood open. Her strength increased as she 
moved and breathed the fresh air, and with every 
increase of strength came increased vividness of 
emotion, increased yearning to be where hei.- thought 
was — in the Rookery with Anthony. She walked 



288 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

more and more swiftly, and at last, gathering the 
artificial strength of passionate excitement, began 
to run. 

lJut now she heard the tread of heavy steps, and 
mider the yellow shade near the wooden bridge she 
saw men slowly carrying something. Soon she was 
face to face with them. Anthony was no longer in 
tlie Rookery : they were carrying him stretched on 
a door, and there behind him was Sir Christopher, 
with the firmly-set mouth, the deathly paleness, and 
the concentrated expression of suffering in the eye, 
which mark the suppressed grief of the strong man. 
The sight of this face, on which Caterina had never 
before beheld the signs of anguish, caused a rush of 
new feeling which for the moment submerged all 
the rest. She went gently up to him, put her little 
hand in his, and walked in silence by his side. Sir 
Christopher could not tell her to leave him, and so 
she went on with that sad procession to Mr Bates's 
cottage in the Mosslands, and sat there in silence, 
waiting and watching to know if Anthony were 
really dead. 

She had not yet missed the dagger from her 
pocket ; she had not yet even thought of it. At 
the sight of Anthony lying dead, her nature had 
rebounded from its new bias of resentment and 
hatred to the old sweet habit of love. The earliest 
and the longest has still the mastery over us ; and 
the only past that linked itself with those glazed 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



289 



unconscious eyes, was the past when they beamed 
on her with tenderness. She forgot the interval of 
wrong and jealousy and hatred — all his cruelty, and 
all her thoughts of revenge — as the exile forgets the 
stormy passage that lay between home and hap- 
piness and the dreary land in which he finds himself 
desolate. 



VOL. L 



T 



290 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

Before night all hope was gone. Dr Hart had said 
it was death ; Anthony's body had been carried to 
the house, and every one there knew the calamity 
that had fallen on them. 

Caterina had been questioned by Dr Hart, and 
had answered briefly that she found Anthony lying 
in the Kookery. That she should have been walk- 
ing there just at that time was not a coincidence to 
raise conjectures in any one besides Mr Gilfil. Ex- 
cept in answering this question, she had not broken 
her silence. She sat mute in a corner of the gar- 
dener's kitchen, shaking her head when Maynard 
entreated her to return with him, and apparently 
unable to think of anything but the possibility that 
Anthony might revive, until she saw them carrying 
away the body to the house. Then she followed by 
Sir Christopher's side again, so quietly, that even Dr 
Hart did not object to her presence. 

It was decided to lay the body in the library until 
after the coroner's inquest to-morrow ; and when 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



291 



Caterina saw the door finally closed, she turned up 
the gallery stairs on her way to her own room, the 
place where she felt at home with her sorrows. It 
was the first time she had been in the gallery since 
that terrible moment in the morning, and now the 
spot and the objects around began to reawaken her 
half-stunned memory. The armour was no longer 
ghttering in the sunlight, but there it himg dead 
and sombre above the cabinet from which she had 
taken the dagger. Yes I now it all came back to 
her — all the wretchedness and all the sin. But 
where was the dagger now ? She felt in her pocket ; 
it was not there. Could it have been her fancy — 
all that about the dagger? She looked in the 
cabinet ; it was not there. Alas ! no ; it could not 
have been her fancy, and she ivas guilty of that 
"wickedness. But where could the dagger be now ? 
Could it have fallen out of her pocket ? She heard 
steps ascending the stans, and hurried on to her 
room, where, kneeling by the bed, and burying her 
face to shut out the hateful light, she tried to recall 
eveiy feeling and incident of the morning. 

It all came back ; ever^-thing Anthony had done, 
and evers-thing she had felt for the last month — for 
many months — ever since that June evening when 
he had last spoken to her in the gallery. She looked 
back on her storms of passion, her jealousy and 
hatred of Miss Assher, her thoughts of revenge on 
Anthony. Oh how wicked she had been ! It was 
she who had been sinning ; it was she who had 



202 SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 

(li ivi'ii liiiii to do and say those things that had made 
li( r so angry. And if he had wronged her, what had 
slic been on the verge of doing to him? She was 
too wicked ever to be pardoned. She would Hke to 
confess how wicked she had been, that they might 
punish her ; she would like to humble herself to 
the dust before every one — before Miss Asslier even. 
Sir Christopher would send her away — would never 
see her again, if he knew all ; and she would be 
happier to be punished and frowned on, than to be 
treated tenderly while she had that guilty secret in 
her breast. But then, if Sir Christopher were to 
know all, it would add to his sorrow, and make him 
more wretched than ever. No ! she could not confess 
it — she should have to tell about Anthony. But she 
could not stay at the Manor ; she must go away ; she 
could not bear Sir Christopher's eye, could not bear 
tlie sight of all these things that reminded her of 
Anthony and of her sin. Perhaps she should die 
soon ; she felt very feeble ; there could not be much 
life in her. She would go away and live humbly, 
and pray to God to pardon her, and let her die. 

The poor child never thought of suicide. No 
sooner was the storm of anger passed than the ten- 
derness and timidity of her nature returned, and she 
could do nothing but love and mourn. Her inex- 
perience prevented her from imagining the conse- 
quences of her disappearance from the Manor ; she 
foresaw none of the terrible details of alarm and 
distress and search that must ensue. " They will 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



293 



think I am dead," she said to herself, and by-and- 
by they will forget me, and Maynard will get happy 
again, and love some one else." 

She was roused from her absorption by a knock 
at the door. Mrs Bellamy was there. She had come 
by Mr Gilfil's request to see how Miss Sarti was, and 
to bring her some food and wine. 

" You look sadly, my dear," said the old house- 
keeper, " an' you're all of a quake wi' cold. Get you 
to bed, now do. Martha shall come an' warm it, an' 
light your fire. See now, here's some nice arrow- 
root, wi' a drop o' wine in it. Take that, an' it'll 
warm you. I must go down again, for I can't awhile 
to stay. There's so many things to see to ; an' Miss 
Assher's in hysterics constant, an' her maid's ill i' 
bed — a poor creachy thing — an' Mrs Sharp's wanted 
every minute. But I'll send Martha up, an' do you 
get ready to go to bed, there's a dear child, an' take 
care o' yourself." 

" Thank you, dear mammy," said Tina, kissing the 
little old woman's wrinkled cheek ; I shall eat the 
arrowroot, and don't trouble about me any more 
to-night. I shall do very well when Martha has 
lighted my fire. Tell Mr Gilfil I'm better. I shall 
go to bed by-and-by, so don't you come up again, 
because you may only disturb me." 

Well, well, take care o' yourself, there's a good 
child, an' God send you may sleep." 

Caterina took the arrowroot quite eagerly, while 
Martha was lighting her fire. She wanted to get 



291 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



strongtli (or licr jonrney, and she kept the plate of 
biscuits by her that she might put some in her 
})oeket. Her whole mind was now bent on going 
away from the Manor, and she was thinking of all 
the ways and means her little life's experience could 
suggest. 

It was dusk now ; she must wait till early dawn, 
for she was too timid to go away in the dark, but 
she must make her escape before any one was up in 
the house. There would be people watching Anthony 
in the library, but she could make her way out of a 
small door leading into the garden, against the draw- 
ing-room on the other side of the house. 

She laid her cloak, bonnet, and veil ready ; then 
she lighted a candle, opened her desk, and took out 
the broken portrait wrapped in paper. She folded 
it again in two little notes of Anthony's, written in 
pencil, and placed it in her bosom. There was the 
little china box, too — Dorcas's present, the pearl ear- 
rings, and a silk purse, with fifteen seven-shilling 
pieces in it, the presents Sir Christopher had made 
her on her birthday, ever since she had been at the 
Manor. Should she take the earrings and the seven- 
shilling pieces ? She could not bear to part with 
them ; it seemed as if they had some of Sir Chris- 
topher's love in them. She would like them to be 
buried with her. She fastened the little round ear- 
rings in her ears, and put the purse with Dorcas's 
box in her pocket. She had another purse there, 
and she took it out to count her money, for slie 



MR GILFIL's love-story. 



295 



would never spend her seven-shilling pieces. She 
had a guinea and eight shillings ; that would be 
plenty. 

So now she sat down to wait for the morning, 
afraid to lay herself on the bed lest she should sleep 
too long. If she could but see Anthony once more 
and kiss his cold forehead ! But that could not be. 
She did not deserve it. She must go away from him, 
away from Sir Christopher, and Lady Cheverel, and 
Maynard, and everybody who had been kind to her, 
and thought her good while she was so wicked. 



296 



CHAPTEE XVIL 



Some of Mrs Sharp's earliest thoughts, the next 
morning, were given to Caterina, whom she had 
not been able to visit the evening before, and whom, 
from a nearly equal mixture of afiection and self- 
importance, she did not at all like resigning to Mrs 
Bellamy's care. At half-past eight o'clock she went 
up to Tina's room, bent on benevolent dictation as 
to doses and diet and lying in bed. But on opening 
the door she found the bed smooth and empty. 
Evidently it had not been slept in. What could 
this mean ? Had she sat up all night, and was she 
gone out to walk ? The poor thing's head might be 
touched by what had happened yesterday ; it was 
such a shock — finding Captain Wybrow in that way ; 
she was perhaps gone out of her mind. Mrs Sharp 
looked anxiously in the place where Tina kept her hat 
and cloak ; they were not there, so that she had had 
at least the presence of mind to put them on. Still the 
good woman felt greatly alarmed, and hastened away 
to tell Mr Gilfil, who, she knew, was in his study. 



ME GILFIL'S love-story. 



297 



Mr Gilfil," she said, as soon as she had closed 
the door behind her, "my mind misgives me dread- 
ful about Miss Sarti." 

" What is it ? " said poor Maynard, with a horrible 
fear that Caterina had betrayed something about the 
dagger. 

" She's not in her room, an' her bed's not been 
slept in this night, an' her hat an' cloak's gone." 

For a minute or two Mr Gilfil was unable to speak. 
He felt sure the worst had come : Caterina had 
destroyed herself. The strong man suddenly looked 
so ill and helpless that Mrs Sharp began to be 
frightened at the effect of her abruptness. 

" Oh, sir, I'm grieved to my heart to shock you 
so ; but I didn't know who else to go to." 

" No, no, you were quite right." 

He gathered some strength from his very despair. 
It was all over, and he had nothing now to do but 
to suffer and to help the suffering. He went on in 
a firmer voice — 

" Be sure not to breathe a word about it to any 
one. We must not alarm Lady Cheverel and Sir 
Christopher. Miss Sarti may be only walking in 
the garden. She was terribly excited by what she 
saw yesterday, and perhaps was unable to lie down 
from restlessness. Just go quietly through the 
empty rooms, and see whether she is in the house. 
I will go and look for her in the grounds." 

He went down, and, to avoid giving any alarm in 
the house, walked at once towards the Mosslands in 



29S 



SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. 



search of ]\Ir Bates, whom he met returning from his 
breakfast. To the gardener he confided his fear 
about Caterina, assigning as a reason for this fear 
the probability that the shock she had undergone 
yesterda}^ had unhinged her mind, and begging him 
to send men in search of her through the gardens 
and park, and inquire if slie had been seen at the 
lodges ; and if she were not found or heard of in 
this way, to lose no time in dragging the waters 
round the Manor. 

" God forbid it should be so, Bates, but we shall 
be the easier for having searched everywhere." 

" Troost to mae, troost to mae, Mr GilfiL Eh ! 
but I'd ha' worked for day- wage all the rest o' my 
life, rether than anythin' should ha' happened to her." 

The good gardener, in deep distress, strode away 
to the stables that he might send the grooms on 
horseback through the park. 

Mr Gilfil's next thought was to search the 
Kookery : she might be haunting the scene of 
Captain Wybrow's death. He went hastily over 
every mound, looked round every large tree, and 
followed every winding of the walks. In reality 
he had little hope of finding her there ; but the bare 
possibility fenced off for a time the fatal conviction 
that Caterina's body would be found in the water. 
When the Kookery had been searched in vain, he 
walked fast to the border of the little stream that 
bounded one side of the grounds. The stream was 
almost everywhere hidden among trees, and there 



MR GILFIL'S love-story. 



299 



was one place where it was broader and deeper 
than elsewhere — she would be more likely to come 
to that spot than to the pool. He hurried along 
with strained eyes, his imagination continually creat- 
ing what he dreaded to see. 

There is something white behind that overhang- 
ing bough. His knees tremble under him. He 
seems to see part of her dress caught on a branch, 
and her dear dead face upturned. God, give 
strength to thy creature, on whom thou hast laid 
this great agony ! He is nearly up to the bough, 
and the white object is moving. It is a waterfowl, 
that spreads its wings and flies away screaming. 
He hardly knows whether it is a relief or a dis- 
appointment that she is not there. The conviction 
that she is dead presses its cold weight upon him 
none the less heavily. 

As he reached the great pool in front of the 
Manor, he saw Mr Bates, with a group of men 
already there, preparing for the dreadful search 
which could only displace his vague despair by a 
definite horror ; for the gardener, in his restless 
anxiety, had been unable to defer this until other 
means of search had proved vain. The pool was 
not now laughing with sparkles among the water- 
lilies. It looked black and cruel under the sombre 
sky, as if its cold depths held relentlessly all the 
murdered hope and joy of Maynard Gilfil's life. 

Thoughts of the sad consequences for others as 
well as himself were crowding on his mind. The 



3(10 



SCENES OK CLERICAL LIFE. 



blinds and slmttorB were closed in front of the 
IMaiior, and it was not likely that Sir Christopher 
would ho aware of anythin*:^ that was passing out- 
side ; hnt Mr Gilfil felt that Oatorma's disappear- 
ance could not long be concealed from him. The 
coroner's inquest would be held shortly ; she would 
be inquired for, and then it would be inevitable that 
the Baronet should know all. 



END OF THE FIRST VOLUME. 



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